Revamped personal injury specialist Slater and Gordon (S&G) is set to roll its legal and former Quindell divisions into a single corporate entity and has earmarked £30m for investment in new technology.
The battle-worn firm today (11 May) announced plans to unify the two entities – Slater and Gordon Lawyers and Slater Gordon Solutions (SGS) – via an alternative business structure (ABS) in the coming months.
SGS is the rebranded name of the Quindell professional services division, which S&G bought in an ill-fated £637m deal in March 2015. The firm ran into financial difficulty shortly after the buyout, and is currently pursuing a fraudulent misrepresentation claim against the seller, Watchstone Group (the renamed Quindell).
Recently-appointed chief executive David Whitmore commented: ‘Unifying the Slater and Gordon group as one ABS means we can operate more efficiently and consolidate expertise across the group, enabling us to improve our customer experience even further. This is a key component of our strategy to strengthen our position as the number one consumer law firm in the UK.’
The unification plan spells bad news for the firm’s regional offices however, with S&G planning to close its Fareham and Sheffield outposts and move work to its larger regional hubs. S&G confirmed it has begun consultations with staff in both offices.
S&G’s combination follows last year’s major severance, when a June 2017 recapitalisation plan saw the firm’s UK operation split from its Australian parent. As part of the plan, senior lenders took control of 95% of the firm’s equity.
In addition to the new corporate structure, S&G revealed it would be financing a £30m tech drive. In a statement, the firm said ‘a significant proportion’ of the money would be put towards ‘digitising legal services, automating processes and introducing the latest back end technologies.’
S&G is also seeking to grow the practice areas of employment, residential conveyancing and family law.
The firm is keen to wipe the slate clean after a turbulent few years which saw regulatory investigations and near financial ruin. S&G was the subject of an Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) investigation in July 2015 over its accounting practices, and for the six months ending 31 December 2015 the firm posted a $958m loss, primarily due to a hefty write-down on the Quindell acquisition.
The significant tech investment and fusion of its two divisions is a step in the right direction for S&G, as its new-look management team. Last month the firm announced that ex-managing director of Sainsbury’s Argos Financial Services, Martyn Beauchamp, would take on a newly-created role of chief customer officer. Emma Holt, who was previously the firm’s head of personal injury, was appointed chief risk officer in the shake-up.
To read more on Slater and Gordon’s rise and fall, read ‘The Icarus Syndrome’.