Welsh broker Thomas, Carroll has reported a reduced profit compared to the previous year, but says investment in its future is largely behind the lower numbers.

The company's operating profit to the end of 2005 was £498,584 compared to £896,366 for 2004.

Managing director Stuart Love said: "We bought the shares of the now retired chairman, Evan Thomas.

"He held a substantial amount and this resulted in an accelerated succession plan and could be compared to a management buy-out in terms of the investment. This, combined with the soft market, were behind the results.

"The figures still show a healthy profit and 2004 was an exceptional year." He said the shares' value was confidential.

The company has doubled in size since 2001 and is poised to make a further acquisition. Love said: "I hope to make an announcement in a couple of weeks. There is also a consolidator after the business. Ours is not just a financial proposition as we want to keep people on and give them a say."

He added Thomas, Carroll had "ambitious plans" but would only grow at a "sustainable" pace. Love said a float at some stage in the future "could not be ruled out".

Thomas, Carroll has recently taken on two former Willis employees, Brynmor Williams and Phil Makinson.

"The national broker sector is disintegrating in Cardiff and this is something we've been able to take advantage of," added Love.