Retail giant Co-op has reported significant increases in profit and revenue for its legal services business. 

The company says it is now the UK’s largest provider of probate services having integrated the legal division into its life planning and funeralcare sectors. 

Results have not always reflected the Co-op’s stated ambitions, but full-year financial statements for 2018 show the company is headed in a positive direction.  

Profit increased 53% on a like-for-like basis to £2.3m, while revenue was up 37% to £34.9m.  

Caoilionn Hurley, interim managing director of life planning and legal at the Co-op, said the company continues to build its life planning business, with the results evidence of strong underlying growth. 

‘We’ve seen a significant increase in sales in our estate planning and probate practice areas; our share of the probate market has increased, further consolidating our position as market leader in the UK,’ she said.  

‘We remain committed to expanding our life planning and legal business for our clients and members and will do this by continuing to invest in our colleagues and technology.’ 

In April last year Co-op acquired Simply Probate, the UK’s second largest provider of probate advice and support to families. This has now been integrated into the life planning business which already offered will writing, lasting power of attorney and funeral plans. 

Co-op’s performance as a legal services provider has been closely scrutinised since it was one of the first three applicants to be authorised as an alternative business structure, non-lawyers having been permitted to own legal businesses by the Legal Services Act. 

Since then, the legal division’s performance has fluctuated until a recent uplift, prompted by the focus on probate and wills.