Backed by a solid staff, which continues to strengthen all of BGL’s divisions, Peter Winslow’s company is still on the rise. Andrew Holt reports
Peter Winslow has ensured that the juggernaut that is the Budget Group of Companies, the UK’s largest privately owned personal lines broker, which has changed its name to the BGL, keeps trampling competition in its wake.
It is indeed a long time since Winslow proposed to his board the option of changing the company from an underwriter to an intermediary but with the prospect of no profit for two years. They went for it, and it has been uphill ever since.
So what is Winslow’s secret of success? He unequivocally identifies one fact that has continually driven BGL’s business forward. “We have a s**t hot team,” he says. “We have the right people in place and we do not interfere with their work. We treat people as they should want to be treated. It is basic, but it works so effectively.”
Partly because of this, BGL earlier this year was identified by The Sunday Times as one of 10 companies to watch, alongside the annual league table of the UK’s 100 private companies with the fastest growing profits over a three-year period.
Winslow says: “It is a magnificent achievement for the Budget Group to have been highlighted as one of the fastest growing private companies to watch. On our current rate of progress we are well on the way to entering the full league table next year.”
The company has six trading divisions: Budget & Dial, Junction, comparethemarket.com, Bennetts, Fusion and ACM ULR, all of whom have played their part.
Winslow says: “Each of the group’s six trading divisions has contributed to this success, sustaining our rate of growth both in profit and size.”
And the name change? “This represents the evolving nature of the business today, and the breadth of our offering to both consumers and business partners.”
Winslow says growth has exceeded expectations, but it is Junction, its affinity arm, that has been the company’s biggest expansion area.
“We have the right people in place and we do not interfere with their work
“The speed to market, flexibility and portability of Junction’s models have seen the number of policies under management double in the past year and Junction will deliver £500m GWP within the next three years,” he says. This is significant because Junction is expected to supply at least 50% of BGL’s GWP by 2010.
Its personal lines and commercial vehicle arm, Budget & Dial, has surpassed the expectation to more than double the number of policies written in the financial year to June from 376,000 to 800,000.
It is also on target to exceed the expectation to have two million car, home, motorcycle and commercial vehicle policies under management, and a further 40% increase in GWP this financial year.
This comes as Budget & Dial (B&D) ramps up its push into the home market after a successful pilot commercial SME cover last year.
“B&D has doubled in size and reinvented e-commerce business,” says Winslow.
It also follows the sale of Budget Retail to Swinton in August for an undisclosed sum, when 92 Budget offices transferred to Swinton. “This was the best thing for both sides.”
Comparethemarket.com has faced a revamp and relaunch which has resulted in £20m advertising push in connection with a Channel 4 drama. “This is completely new and exciting for us. We want to be a leading provider in this market.”
It will face a tough task as the aggregator market is highly competitive.
Bennetts, the motorcycle broker, has grown an impressive 80% growth since its acquisition by Budget in October 2001.
“I fully predict we will continue to grow successfully because we have so many good people... The future looks very bright.
“We are well on target to secure over 30% share of the market,” says Winslow.
Fusion Outsourcing Services, the South African call centre service for both Dial Direct and the Budget motor insurance brand, has over tripled the size of the call centre to 800 seats. Half are to be filled by staff trained by local agency, Calling The Cape.
As a result, BGL claims that personal lines sales are up 4% on the UK and in commercial vehicle successful sales were 11% higher than its UK equivalent.
Although it may be more expensive to run a call centre in Cape Town than in India, Budget says the results prove themselves.
“This is very different from the outsourcing model that gets so much bad press,” says Winslow. No jobs have been lost in the UK and Calling the Cape supplies almost half of the new workforce which it trains at no cost to the intermediary, focusing on the unemployed.
For the year ended June 2006, Budget’s pre-tax profits were £22.2m, up 85% on the previous year. The group currently employs 2,255 people, and has created more than a thousand jobs in the past three years.
For this period, GWP rose 25% on the previous year to £376m, while policies under the group’s management increased by 35% to 1.4 million.
In our latest top 50 list BGL’s brokerage increased by 38% to move it up four places to an impressive eighth. In November, BGL set an ambitious target to grow its premium income organically to £1.25bn by the end of 2010.
Winslow says: “I fully predict we will continue to grow successfully because we have so many good people and a good set of working practices, which I believe bring out the best in all our staff. The future looks very bright.”
- PDF, Size 6.59 mb