Co-operative pushes ahead with ABS despite losses

Co-operative Legal Services’ ABS – the first ABS to hit the marketplace – has revealed a bleak financial performance for the first half of 2013 with losses of £3.4m. 

The service was the first ABS to be approved by the SRA in January 2012 (28 March 2012), but has seen performance plummet compared to the months after it was established when it turned a profit of £700,000. The financial results have been unveiled on the same day as the group’s banking arm hit the headlines for major financial losses.

The downturn in the ABS’s fortunes is underlined by the fact the service increased its revenue by 5.7 per cent compared to the same period in 2012. A Co-operative Legal Services spokesperson said the losses were due to a period of sustained investment in areas such as the family law service it bought at the end of 2012.

The spokesperson, Russ Brady said: “The loss is purely down to the ongoing commitments and investments to the business such as the continued expansion of our family law business so we’re building the capacity and growth opportunities for the future.”

Group chief executive Euan Sutherland acknowledged the group’s difficulties, the banking arm of which hit the headlines this morning for losses of £559m in the first half of the year, having written off £496m of bad loans. Sutherland said it had been “a very difficult first half for the Co-operative Group.”

The Co-op spokesman added: “Part of the reasons for going down to ABS route was that we have a recognised brand that people have a real warmth and affection to but were allying that with bringing in some serious experienced legal services practitioners.”

The group claims that the months since 2013 have seen successful, with more than 1,500 Legal Aid clients taken on since April.

In April Co-op unveiled the first ever TV advert (5 June 2013), using the same agency responsible for campaigns by McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Kelloggs.