by Scott Douglas

Monday, October 20th, 2003

Legal PR experts help tell dynamic young law firm’s acquisition story

Legal PR photography for lawyer Michael Maloco of PSM Law Group

PROUD lawyer Michael Maloco has ensured the return of his family name to the Fife High Street  where it first appeared almost 100 years ago.

The successful solicitor’s great-grandfather first set up Café Maloco in Dunfermline in 1908 after arriving in Scotland from the Frosinone region of Italy with his wife and large family.

The venue became an institution in the town, renowned for its excellent cappucinos, superb ice creams and its 10-table snooker hall. However, Michael’s parents sold the business in 1985.

Now the Maloco name has reappeared on the High Street thanks to the major expansion of the legal firm which Michael co-founded 13 years ago. Peddie Smith Maloco has gone from strength-strength since then, and under its new guise as the PSM Law Group, has just opened its smart new headquarters.

The move has been something of a homecoming for Michael, who would have loved nothing more than to set up the firm’s HQ in the same building where his family ran its business.

Instead PSM’s new office is six doors down the street – ironically in the building formerly used by Café Maloco’s arch rival, Lipton’s tea rooms. Lipton’s was one of the first supermarkets in Fife, with a café upstairs.

Michael joked: “Lipton’s was a pretty big rival to my parent’s café business and I suppose you could say the Maloco’s have come out on top. Ours was always a better café anyway!”

As a boy Michael lived with his family above Café Maloco. Ironically his new office is in the same position as the bedroom he used to occupy just a few yards further up the street.

He added: “ The layout in the buildings is similar so my office has the same position that my old bedroom was in. The view is virtually identical as well, which I am chuffed about  because it is a fantastic panorama.

“On a clear day you can see across the Forth and all the way from Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh to Longannet. It’s a fabulous view and one I appreciate it a lot more now than I did as a nine-year-old boy.”

Café Maloco was a household name in Dunfermline and helped launch the career of snooker sensation Stephen Hendry. Michael’s father had a strict over 14 age limit on his snooker tables, but made a special allowance for the young prodigy to hone his skills long before he became famous.

Michael added: “My dad often used to joke that if he had spotted Stephen Hendry’s talent earlier he could have become his manager and would have made a lot more money than he did running a café.

“He also used to discourage me from playing too much snooker and would tell me to concentrate on my school homework instead. He didn’t think there was any future in being a snooker player – and I still tease him about that now.”

But his father’s advice about studying definitely did pay off and after leaving Dunfermline High School, Michael went on to study law at Dundee University. After graduating he worked for W&AS Bruce in the town before co-founding Peddie Smith Maloco in 1990.

PSM is now one of Fife’s biggest business success stories, and has grown exponentially in the past four years – during which time turnover has increased 300 per cent and the number of staff has grown from 20 to 80.

Legal PR photography for lawyer Michael Maloco

Michael, who still lives in Dunfermline with wife Janey and daughters Hannah, 14, and Melissa, 11, is understandably proud of the success which has seen the company move into the smart new offices on the High Street, refurbished at a cost of £100,000.

Since embracing new technology in 1995 Michael and co-founder Kyle Peddie have never looked back and PSM is now one of the most technologically advanced legal firms in Scotland and boasts several divisions, the most visible being the hugely successful Hunters-psm conveyancing and estate agency wing.

It straddles the Forth with a Dunfermline-based office handling hundreds of property sales across Fife, while another office in Edinburgh deals with Lothian and the capital’s red hot property market.

A £1million investment in software and equipment has allowed PSM to set-up an online division, carrying out volume conveyancing work for some of the biggest lenders in Britain, including Lloyds TSB and Abbey National. Customers and lenders alike are offered full, 24-7 online access to their case files – a service which is unique in Britain

They are the only legal firm in the country – and one of just a handful of businesses across Scotland – to base their online services round Application Service Provision (ASP) technology, which is used by the world’s biggest internet firms, like Amazon and Yahoo.

It means they have easily and cost-effectively been able to open PSM-On-Line offices in England and Northern Ireland, bolstering the existing call centre in Fife, turning the business into a UK-wide operation with huge potential for growth.

The two other divisions are PSM Legal, handling residential conveyancing, including the contract for the Scottish Executive’s Mortgage to Rent scheme and PSM Wills, which provides a complete executry service, including a unique on-line wills service.

Despite those successes Michael has found it impossible to satisfy one important person – his daughter Melissa who is fascinated by the history of the café and its backroom ice cream factory.

Michael added: “Melissa wasn’t even born when the café shut down but she is absolutely fascinated by it and is always pestering me if we can takeover the branch of Next and turn it back into Café Maloco. Maybe one day – who knows?”

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Scott Douglas, of public relations agency Holyrood PR in Scotland

Scott Douglas

Scott Douglas is the co-founder of the multi award-winning Holyrood PR, renowned public relations agency in Edinburgh, Scotland.
As well as providing expert PR services in Scotland and the UK, the former journalist heads a team which offers a host of other professional media services.
Those include crisis management PR, photography for business PR, affordable business video, social media campaigns and strategic content planning and delivery for businesses of all sizes.

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