Equity Insurance expands UK network to around 70 branches

Equity Insurance Group is steaming ahead with its expansion plans for this year following the acquisition of two brokers and seven more offers accepted.

The broking and insurance group has acquired the general insurance books of Yeo Brokers in Somerset and Cirencester-based EH Morgan, pushing its UK branch network to around 70.

The company, which has bought nine branches and five books of business in the last eight months, said it was on target for expanding its network to 100 outlets by the end of the year.

Mike Hutton, managing director of branch broking at Equity, said: "We have plans over the next five years to continue to grow at this rate. There are currently another seven offers with our solicitors, which have been accepted, with one to be completed this week. The rest will go through over the next couple of months."

He added that a further 26 offers had been made, and that Equity was in talks with an additional 22 brokers.

Hutton said Equity would typically target brokers controlling between

£1m-1.2m GWP, although there were offers with companies with up to £3m gross written premium (GWP). Yeo has a GWP of £1.8m. Equity Insurance Brokers' GWP for 2005 was £166m.

Hutton said: "The business is growing very rapidly and we are really kicking on again this year with our new strategy."

Meanwhile FirstAssist chief executive Tim Ablett has been appointed as non-executive director of Equity Insurance Brokers.

Neil Utley, chief executive of Equity Insurance Group, said: "Tim's experience will be valuable in ensuring the company achieves both its short and longer-term growth objectives."