Co-operative Legal Services (CLS) will join the group’s funeral and insurance businesses in a new ‘consumer services division’ following a major shakeup of the loss-making alternative business structure.
CLS will offer a ‘more aligned’ service, working ‘closely’ with the other teams, its managing director told the Gazette.
The changes follow a management overhaul, with four members stepping down from the CLS board since last month’s annual general meeting. They include non-executive director Rodger Pannone, founder of the Pannone Law Group and a former president of the Law Society.
The new ‘agile’ board comprises Matt Howells, managing director, who joined last year from Barclays, finance director Caoilionn Hurley, an accountant, and chairman Alistair Asher, a former partner at Allen & Overy who joined CLS in July 2013.
Howells told the Gazette that the business, which made an operating loss of £9.1m last year, was in a ‘rebuild phase’. He said: ‘Last year saw some ugly numbers, but it is now time to look forward. I would hope these changes will deliver a profit next year. It will be a challenging year, but we hope to enter 2015 in a positive way.’
Hurley, who joined CLS in March, has ‘significant turnaround experience’ said Howells, adding that the structure of the consumer division will help CLS provide ‘a more aligned customer service’. He said: ‘This is a unique opportunity to work more closely with those areas of the business.’
Over the next 12 months, the business will look to strengthen its market position, particularly in wills and probate, and will ‘work closely with our Funeralcare division’, he said.
The previous structure did not allow CLS to pull its products together easily, said Howells. ‘It will mean if a customer is seeking a funeral plan they will have access to other products such as a will.’
The group’s insurance business and its personal injury work are also complementary, he added. ‘We are in a different position from where we were 12 months ago.’