Co-op’s legal business resurgence has slowed, according to new accounts revealing that profits have fallen by two-thirds compared with last year.
Interim results posted today show the mutual giant’s legal services business posted a profit of £200,000 in the first half of 2017 on a turnover of £12m, up 9.1% on the same period last year. The company made a £600,000 profit from legal services during the same period in 2016.
Co-op said its legal services business is to develop new products to help members’ long-term needs. The company aims to further develop its Funeralcare branch network and will use this to widen some legal services provisions; will writing and probate in particular.
Chief executive Steve Murrells said: ‘In legal services we’re working more closely than ever with our funerals business to create a comprehensive approach to life planning.’
Growth in probate and estate planning sales were cited as reasons for growing revenue.
Co-op reported that digital legal services provision has been championed in the last year, resulting in one-third of wills being written online.
It has also begun a new partnership with Cancer Research UK aiming to raise more than £750,000.
The Funeralcare business opened 27 new funeral homes in the first half of the year, with plans to open a further 53 by the end of 2017. Sales in this sector rose marginally, but underlying operating profit was roughly the same at £41m.
CLS was one of the first three alternative business structures licensed by the SRA in March 2012 and was seen to be the pioneer for the new wave of non-legal entrants attracted to the sector following the Legal Services Act and subsequent liberalisation of the market. But the firm posted multi-million-pound losses in subsequent years, admitting that it grew ‘too fast’.