The Co-operative group’s push into high street legal services continues to falter, with the unit making a £5.1m loss for the 26 weeks to 5 July.
Revenue at Co-op Legal Services, which launched with great acclaim in 2009 trumpeting expectations that the business would employ 3,000 people, slipped 28% from £18m to £13m for the period. The fall in sales of probate and family law services pushed up the division’s losses, which stood at £3m for the corresponding period last year.
The company said in its financial results: ‘In the last six months we have been focused on addressing the underlying issues, reducing the cost base, and restructuring the business to ensure it is the right size and shape for the future. This restructuring has now been successfully completed, and we have a clear plan for the second half of the year, in which we expect a positive contribution from Legal Services as we move into 2015.’
‘Legal Services will work closely with the other business within the new consumer services division [which also includes insurance and funeralcare] to explore new ways of providing services and products which meet customers’ needs at key life stages.’
Co-operative Legal Services, which is run out of Bristol, was one of the first businesses to receive permission to an alternative business structure and was hit by the loss of Christina Blacklaws, who spearheaded its development, when she left to launch an ABS consultancy earlier this year.
Despite a multi-million-pound advertising campaign last year, the ABS continues to struggle, with management last year putting its poor performance down to regulatory change and legal reforms that hit its personal injury business and led to a restructure.