AXA has reshuffled its direct operation by appointing Jillian Watt as director of distribution development.

Last week, speculation was rife at the Biba conference that Watt would be the long-awaited replacement for AXA head of broker development Colin Calder.

But she replaces David Aiston who has been promoted to director of AXA Direct, the division that specialises in selling products direct to SMEs.

An AXA spokesman said: "Colin is irreplaceable and as such his role has been spread over a number of jobs. David will lead the challenges in the SME area and be responsible for reviewing and energising this channel to achieve significant business growth.

"Jillian will continue the great work David has started in driving forward our strategic plans.

"These focus on driving a higher sales performance, increasing the efficiency of our sales operation and ensuring our operating models are aligned to our customers."

Watt was joint winner of the Insurance Times Young Achiever of the Year Award 2005.