Acquisitions and network expansion will drive group growth

Cobra Group is set to make a string of acquisitions across England and expand its network in Scotland in a bid to hit £345m premium income by the end of the year, the company has revealed.

The announcement came as the group announced its first network member in Scotland this week and an acquisition in Kent.

Group chairman Steve Burrows forecast the group would generate £600m GWP income in the next five years. The group currently controls £325m in premium.

Further acquisitions in the West, East Anglia and the North West are expected to be announced later this year.

Commenting on the group's first Scottish member, Dunfermline-based Borland Financial Services, John Lincoln, managing director of the Cobra Network said: "Our plan is to add at least nine more members from Scotland over the next year in addition to our growth in England.

"We have three applications currently at the 'due diligence' stage and further seven have indicated they will submit applications over the next month."

Kent-based Harrington Frey Marrington (HFM), a former Cobra Network member, was acquired by Cobra Insurance Brokers this week.

Phil Truman, director responsible for acquisitions, said: "The acquisition of HFM represents the beginning of an exciting period of expansion for Cobra. We will announce another acquisition at the end of the month."

He added: "We expect to increase GWP for the group by between £15m and £20m this year."

The move is the start of a two-year consolidation period for the company which was restructured in October.

Growth is expected to continue into 2007 as the group moves the second phase of consolidation, said Truman.