Broker group in regional drive following Manchester broker buy

Cobra Holdings is gearing up to create hubs in up to seven major regions around the country within the next three years.

Following the £4.3m acquisition of Manchester broker UK & Ireland Insurance Services (UKI) this week, the network is now targeting other major cities, including Birmingham and Leeds, to establish a network of regional offices.

Cobra chief executive Steve Burrows said the acquisition of UKI gave the group a hub in the North West from which it would expand.

Burrows said: “We can develop a network up there [Manchester] now. This gives us a network office in the North.”

He said the aim was to look for further acquisitions in the local market to merge with UKI.

He added that the Manchester broker would operate a London arm to find local business, particularly in the construction sector.

UKI controls £12m in gross written premiums and Burrows said he was looking for 20% organic growth from the company in the next year.

Cobra is now in talks with a number of brokers in other regions and still maintains its vision of acquiring eight brokers and achieving an annual target of £25m in premium income.

Burrows said: “Buying eight is still our challenge and still our target. We have hit £20m this year in premium income and if we get another one we will be close to our target.”

He said the network was in discussions with one broker over a £25m acquisition, and insisted the group would not pay over that amount.

He added: “There is always a limit to how much we would want to take. We still have the finances available and we are still in a strong position. We are fairly confident that the people that back us are able to do that.”

The acquisition of UKI will be paid in three stages through cash and shares.