Almost 40 support staff have been made redundant at law firm DWF in the wake of its takeover of troubled rival Cobbetts – and 21 more are at risk.
The Manchester-headquartered firm confirmed that as a result of its acquisition of Cobbetts, which has an office on Colmore Circus, 38 roles within the now combined central services team are to be made redundant.
It follows a consultation period with more than 140 staff which ended on Friday March 22. A statement issued by the firm added that 83 people had been placed into new roles with 21 members of staff still in the selection process.
The firm’s statement said: “Inevitably with an acquisition of this size and nature there was an element of overlap of roles within central services.
"As a result, over 140 people, made up of both DWF and the legacy Cobbetts firm, were initially placed at risk of redundancy.
"However, as of Friday, March 22, 83 have now been placed into roles, 21 are still in the selection process and 38 roles have been confirmed as redundant.”
It went on to add that the firm was committed to growth despite the job losses.
It added: “However, DWF continues to grow and currently has over 40 vacancies across the firm and all individuals confirmed as at risk have been encouraged to apply for these positions, where such roles meet their career aspirations.
"For those leaving the business DWF has a dedicated team providing a series of career workshops and continued individual support.”
A spokeswoman for the firm said that at this stage it was not possible to specify the number of jobs that would be going at DWF’s Birmingham operation.
The firm now employs almost 2,500 people at its regional offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Coventry, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Preston and Teesside.”
The latest news is a further blow to former Cobbetts’ staff following confirmation by Redditch-based HL Legal Solicitors, which acquired Cobbetts’ debt recovery business Incasso, that it had put an unspecified number of people into redundancy consultation.
HL Legal, which provides pre-legal collection services and litigation advice to lenders, debt purchasers and other businesses, purchased the debt recovery business from administrators KPMG.
DWF acquired Cobbetts in a pre-pack deal and it was subsequently revealed creditors – including Lloyds TSB Bank, Cobbetts’ pension scheme, HM Revenue and Customs and Wesleyan – were owed an estimated £41 million.
Cobbetts, which had offices in Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and London, blamed “difficult trading conditions in the professional services sector” when it filed notice it intended to appoint administrators earlier this year.
Cobbetts’ downfall was detailed in a report by administrator KPMG made under Statement of Insolvency Practice 16.
The collapse followed a downturn in trading performance from 2009, partly arising from lower corporate and property transactions. In 2008 the firm had turned over nearly £60 million, but two years later this had fallen to £44 million.
By September last year KPMG had been engaged at the request of Cobbetts’ bankers Lloyds TSB, to prepare a contingency plan in the event of it being sold.
Poor trading during December 2012 proved the final nail in the coffin, meaning Cobbetts did not have the cash to pay wages.