Insurer to combine distribution businesses into single legal entity

Ageas is to merge the companies in its retail broking and distribution division into a single legal entity in a change designed to help the unit weather competitive market conditions.

The insurer’s retail division includes Kwik-Fit Financial services, Ageas 50 (which comprises RIAS and Castle Cover) and Ageas Insurance Solutions.

The news comes as the retail division’s profit fell 67% to £2.1m in the first quarter of 2014 from £6.3m in the same period last year because of “a tough and highly competitive environment”.

The division currently comprises seven legal entities, which the company will reduce to a single company. The insurer plans to re-name Ageas 50 as Ageas Retail and bring the other businesses into that company.

The move will go beyond simply combining the legal entities. Ageas UK chief executive Andy Watson said: “There are other areas we can tidy up, such as the number of software platforms that we use.

“Some of those businesses were acquired, such as Kwik-Fit and Castle Cover, so we want to much more closely integrate those businesses within retail.

He added: “As well as simplification we are looking to grow those businesses, so we are investing some time and money in things like making sure we are managing our brands correctly to having a really clear focus on the brands that we operate and the customers they are targeting, and reinforcing that with an investment in data analytics and pricing.”

Watson said that the change project was at its initial stages. “We know what we want to do. It is a question of how to do it with minimal, and hopefully no, customer disruption.”

He declined to detail how the change would affect the management of the companies within the division.

He said: “It is already under Mark Cliff’s leadership, as chief executive of retail and distribution. As with any large organisation, we will review the way that we are organised and when we have something to say, we will say it.”