Manolete Partners plc (LON:MANO) Chief Executive Officer Steven Cooklin caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss whether COVID-19 has or will affect their business and the enormous increase in their potential market.
Q1: COVID-19, not a lot of companies want to talk about it but what short term impact has this had on Manolete Partners?
A1: Very little. Our regional teams, which is the most by volume of employees in the company, they’ve always worked from home so not a huge amount of change on that front other than meetings with insolvency practitioners and lawyers happened using video conference calls, rather than face to face meetings.
The London team, I think we were slightly ahead of the 8-ball on that, we actually asked them to work from home about 3 weeks ago so that worked very well indeed.
The fact that we’re not making anything, it’s all litigation, so much of the paperwork is very capable of being done on email and PDF and the like so I must say it’s not been as much as a wrench as I’d feared initially.
Q2: Looking longer, what impact do you think COVID-19 will have on the business?
A2: Well, the BBC ran article yesterday saying that 25% of UK SME’s, which is our target market, could well be forced into insolvency over the foreseeable future so that’s about 1 million companies there which is a huge amount. Now, that compared to just 18,000 usually going into an insolvency process every year, it’s just a simply enormous increase in our potential market.
Q3: Just thinking about then, what can you tell us about your competition and your market share?
A3: There’s going to be a report issued in the next week or so by Professor Peter Walton, Professor of Law at Wolverhampton University, he did an initial report back in 2016 on the size of the market and market share and at the time, Manolete Partners had a 52% market share.
What this report will show is our share has in fact increased to around 67% in the core UK insolvency litigation market so that’s great to see. Yes, there are a number of other competitors but their market share is very small, single digit.
I think the IPO and the increased profile with the IPO and the fact we’re very funded since we floated has really strengthened our position in the market.
Q4: Will Manolete Partners be able to cope with all of this work should it come your way?
A4: Yes, we’ve dramatically increased the team since the listing in December 2018, we’ve gone from 4 lawyers up to 14 and we brought on a couple of consultants as well.
So, those are all at a very senior level that we partner or thereabouts, we’re now going to be looking to build underneath them with senior associates, again around the regions and also increasing the London team as well.