Direct motor writer Admiral Insurance Services plans to employ an extra 600 staff in the next three years as part of its expansion plans.

The Cardiff-based insurer will recruit 200 staff each year to bring the total number employed to 1,800.

Finance director Andrew Probert expects to add an extra 100,000 policyholders and increase premium income from the current £183 million to £250 million by 2001.

The announcement follows the recent management buy-out of Admiral from the Brockbank Group in August.

The deal, which was backed by Barclays Private Equity, valued the direct motor insurer at between £60-80m depending on performance over the next two years.

Managing director Henry Englehardt, marketing director David Stevens and finance director Probert have each retained a stake in the business.

"Our recent investment gives us the opportunity to really drive Admiral forward and fully exploit its market potential," said Englehardt. "One of the big plusses is that it gives us the chance to increase the number of staff.

"Seven years ago, we had no customers and 57 staff.

"Today, we have four brands, 450,000 customers and more than 1,200 staff."

This year the company also intends to launch a new internet brand, to be called Elephant.