Nottingham-based legal head-hunter Wellman-Smith Central is talking to liquidators with a view to putting itself into voluntary liquidation.

The two founders, husband and wife Karl Wellman-Smith and Liz Mitra, will go it alone as a partnership after the restructuring, specialising in executive search services for lawyers.

The move comes as the legal recruitment market is going through a boom period.

But Wellman-Smith said the company had recently found it difficult to retain consultants. “We found that as people joined us and became more experienced it was hard to keep a sufficient core of experienced people,” he said.

The pair started in 1989 as a partnership, moving from advertising-based recruitment to head-hunting four years ago and incorporating two years ago when the firm reached its peak of 10 consultants.

Mitra added: “We had considered other options, such as introducing external investment, but no acceptable offer was found.”

Wellman-Smith explained: “Times got bad, and we had to make a fundamental decision about the direction we wanted to go in.

“Since the decision was made we've spoken to a lot of clients and we've had a tremendous and positive response.”

Market insiders say the company was a victim of its own expansion. One former consultant, who declined to be named, said the company had experienced a lot of fee-earner losses, which hit its turnover.