High street bookseller and stationary specialist WHSmith has agreed a partnership with QualitySolicitors (QS) that will see hundreds of the retailer’s stores provide legal advice to customers.
Described by QS CEO Craig Holt as “the future of legal services” the deal will see ‘Legal Access Points’ (LAP) set up in WHSmith outlets across the UK, where visitors to the stores can talk to professionals about a range of issues.
The partnership will launch later this summer, allowing customers the receive fixed-fee advice, buy wills packages and access quotes for other services.
Today’s announcement comes ahead of the implementation of the Legal Services Act in October, which will enable non-legal organisations such as banks and supermarkets to offer legal services.
Holt describes the collaboration as “a game changer”, with the partnership allowing his company access to a huge percentage of the UK population.
“It provides everything the Legal Services Act was hoped to provide without the perceived negatives - accessible, consumer-friendly legal services but with the actual legal work being done by expert, leading local law firms and not unqualified staff in a remote call centre,” he added.
WHSmith Commercial Development Director Ian Sanders said the retailer was looking forward to “a long and successful partnership” with QS, starting with the roll out of the first LAPs and additional in-store advertising in the coming months.
The partnership comes at a time when vacancy rates on the high street are growing, and the move by WHSmith to increase the scope of its offering could encourage consumers to visit their local town centres more regularly.
In a similar move to provide a multi-service offering to customers last year, John Lewis began trialling a new technology switching tool at two of its department stores.
Partnering with digital TV, broadband and home phone services provider Simplifydigital, the deal gave visitors to the shop the opportunity to find the best telecoms package for their home address.