National firm Slater and Gordon plans to close four offices within a year as it continues to restructure its UK business, it was confirmed today. The firm will shut offices in Chester, Wrexham and Milton Keynes, with a further site in Preston closing when the lease runs out on the premises next summer.
Staff were told on Monday about the plans and efforts are being made to relocate employees to larger city centres.
Despite speculation, the closures are limited to four sites, although some other groups and individuals are being relocated. A small clinical negligence team in Liverpool, for example, will be amalgamated into a bigger site.
The closures are the latest development in the firm’s efforts to improve its financial performance and trim a plethora of offices left as legacy of a series of rapid acquisitions between 2012 and 2015. The Chester and Wrexham offices were inherited by the acquisition of Walker Smith Way and have around 30 staff between them.
In a statement, the firm said: ‘Slater and Gordon is focused on being the UK’s leading provider of consumer legal services and making sure we are best placed to serve our clients - now and in the future.
‘We have assessed our geographic footprint with a view to bringing it in line with our vision of delivering our services from strategic centres of excellence. Following this review, we are considering a plan to consolidate a number of our smaller offices into our larger regional hubs, where colleagues can share their outstanding knowledge and expertise across a range of legal fields.’
The firm says it will 'work closely with the colleagues impacted' during a consultation period.
Slater and Gordon currently has 14 offices listed on its website and has a headcount of around 3,000.
It stopped adding new members to the LLP in 2015 and earlier this year was reported to have ‘downgraded’ up to 40 partners to employee status.
The firm has undergone a significant overhaul of its UK business in the past two years which has cut staff numbers by around 1,000 and shut down some 10 locations.
It was announced in August the UK business would separate from its Australian parent company, subject to shareholder approval, and was now effectively owned by senior lenders. This decision followed financial catastrophe brought about by the decision to acquire the legal services arm of listed entity Quindell for £637m. The company’s share price tumbled as successive financial reports confirmed massive losses were suffered in the aftermath of the acquisition.
Meanwhile, national firm Irwin Mitchell has announced the capture of three Slater and Gordon lawyers to join its court of protection team in Manchester.
The trio are Lucy Nicol, who joined earlier this month, and Damian Hodkinson and Gillian Hitchen who will join early in 2018. All were previously part of the Pannone team before it was acquired by Slater and Gordon in 2013.