QualitySolicitors stalwart exits to be standalone business

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  • Mary mocklow

One of the longest-serving members of the QualitySolicitors network has announced plans to go it alone.

Midlands firm Talbots will leave the QS brand in May to end a five-year association.

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The firm, which employs 184 people, said it has £1m to invest in innovations and expanding its residential property, business services and trusts and estates teams.

QS has seen several member firms leave in recent years, although losses have been reduced from two years ago.

Talbots director Mary Mocklow (pictured) said: ‘We believe our future is best served by deepening these local roots, rather than focusing some of our efforts towards being part of a national brand like QualitySolicitors.

‘It was a tough decision to make as we’ve had some really good years with them. As a standalone business we are free to innovate and launch exciting new products and services at a pace that suits us and, importantly, adds even more benefits to our clients.’

Back-office support such as marketing and IT, which are provided through being members of the network, are now done in-house as the firm has grown in recent years.

The firm currently operates from seven offices in the Black Country, Staffordshire and Worcestershire and is targeting £10m revenue from annual fees in 2016.

The firm said the investment comes from retained profit, and the money will be spent on upgrading technology and finding larger premises in Kidderminster and Stourbridge. The firm will also move to a larger office in Wolverhampton next month and is considering expanding into more sites.

QS was founded in 2008 by Craig Holt and Saleem Arif. Both have since left for new projects.

The company enlisted more than 100 firms to sign up to join its network, buoyed by a tie-in with retail giant WH Smith. That link was severed after two years in 2013.

Last year, chief executive Eddie Ross admitted that the network had grown too quickly and confirmed member numbers had reduced from 120 to 100.

In the 15-month period ended 31 March 2015 the company posted an operating loss of £2.3m, down from £3.6m in calendar 2013.

Readers' comments (12)

  • I don't blame them. I have always thought that the brand is detrimental to the vendor of legal services: it no doubt basks in the glory of "one of the nation’s favourite twist wrapped assortments" but maybe the turnover just became too seasonal - it would be interesting to know if QS firms do have a much lumpier revenue stream that others.

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  • My firm is a member of the QS network and we have gone from strength to strength in the 5 years since we joined; we are able to do much more for our clients as part of QS than we would alone and our revenue stream is certainly not ''lumpy''! I would recommend QS whole heartedly to other firms wanting to innovate and grow.

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  • Local lawyers providing a service to local people and businesses. It'll never catch on!!

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  • The national brand idea which was really just a marketing franchise was never going to work.

    There has been a steady flow of firms away from QS in recent times.

    Will be interesting to see if loss of one of their main pillars starts a flood.

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  • What precisely is it that paying money to QS gives a firm that they couldn't buy locally from business consultants and through outsourcing? I just don't get it. Why not spend the money given to QS to "innovate" and develop locally or nationally (whatever suits the business)? After all there are law firms who aren't part of QS who have managed it. Those who are part of QS are generally reluctant to give specific information on what it is that QS offers which can't be done as an individual firm.

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  • Aileen....me thinks you protest too much!! A 4 Fee earner firm is not really why W H Smith or "Quality" have in mind.

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  • Well played Arthur!

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  • You know the expression, 'Don't knock it until you've tried it'? Well when QS is the subject of any article that can be commented on most of the derogatory comments are from those in just that position. Although the ‘QS brand’ may not be suitable for all it is quite obviously suitable for some. Arthur Robinson particularly seems to miss the point; has he never heard of ‘economies of scale’? He says “Those who are part of QS are generally reluctant to give specific information on what it is that QS offers”; if he is so interested in what they offer why does he not contact them direct?

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  • I have never been a fan of the QS franchise. Having the word 'quality' in your brand doesn't really fill the consumer with any real confidednce. If you have to say it then is it really true?

    Bit like 'Honest John's Motors' - he's probably not that honest!.

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  • Re anonymous posting at 1.33pm 23rd March: ‘It would be interesting to know if QS firms do have a much lumpier revenue stream that others’. Not sure why a QS firm would have ‘lumpy revenue’. Our experience over the last 4 years — as QS Talbots - is 15% average growth every year, and targeting £10m in 2016. The secret to our success? As a firm, we bought into QS’ ethos of ‘sales’ and ‘products’. Let me share one example: First Contact Teams. Do you have one or do you ask Lawyers (or their assistants) to deal with new enquiries? Our ‘sales’ team deal with all new enquiries at a conversion rate of 74.5%. Or put another way, that equates to £288k of new business in February alone. QS has been a great journey for us, we’ve learned a great deal and I wonder how many non-QS firms think (or act) as commercially? We’ve a lot to thank them for.

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