Slater & Gordon’s managing director, Andrew Grech, has said that the firm has the opportunity to win market share in the personal injury claims legal market with its “well-positioned” brand.
Legal Futures has reported that Grech told attendees at the Australian firm’s AGM that Slater & Gordon’s leadership remained “convinced of the strategic merit” is entering the UK’s consumer legal services market.
“We are in a growing sector with a well-positioned brand and the opportunity to win market share once we are through our current challenges,” he said.
Giving a first quarter trading update, Grech said UK earnings were ahead of budget thanks to over-performance by its serious and specialised personal injury practice.
He further backed up his optimism with some statistics relating to the firm’s website. He said that it attracted 200,000 visitors a month, which he said was “twice the level of our nearest competitor”.
Grech did however, admit to being disappointed by the lack of progress with bulk settlements in the firm’s noise-induced hearing loss portfolio which it bought from Quindell last year. He said that costs from the portfolio were being managed carefully and that losses would be significantly reduced from last year.
He also said the firm’s UK re-organisation was almost complete, with a 16% reduction in headcount, amounting to some 600 staff, delivering “immediate financial benefits”. He confirmed that the firm’s office count would be reduced to 32 by January 2017, with more to be closed down later in the year.
“Clearly during any transformation programme involving a 16% reduction in headcount, a key challenge is retaining the right staff and keeping those staff motivated and engaged,” he said.
“We have experienced some unplanned staff attrition, but overall this has stabilised and is manageable […] Our brand, scale and position in the market remains an attractive employee proposition.”
“Despite the challenges we are facing in the UK, we remain convinced of the strategic merit of taking a leadership position in the UK consumer legal services market. In doing so, we have positioned Slater & Gordon to take advantage of the consolidation which is already underway and will continue.”
Slater & Gordon chairman John Skippen, who also spoke at the AGM, said that Slater & Gordon’s action against the Watchstone Group (formerly Quindell) would probably take a number of years to resolve.