Stephen Duffy is set to complete on his fifth broker acquisition later this month

Ashgrove Insurance managing director Stephen Duffy says the 21-month old brokerage is more than nine months ahead of its target to place £5m in premiums by the end of 2014.

The former Towergate Agency Management managing director has acquired four brokers since he set up the acquisition vehicle Northern Keep in 2012; Ashgrove (May 2012), Dennis Baggott (December 2012), Lloyd Howard (September 2013) and A.J. Hird (January 2014).

He said the growth of Ashgrove has been achieved by around £4m of acquisitions and £1m of organic growth.

In its first year of trading, new business accounted for 34% of the brokerage. In the second year this had dipped to 22.6%.

But Duffy says he is “more than happy” with the growth because as the company grows it has to strike a balance between its management of new and existing business.

He told Insurance Times: “We still have ambitious growth plans for the business. We are doing a lot more marketing for business from existing clients and we are making them aware of products that will be beneficial to them.

“It’s been very hard work but enjoyable hard work. We are constantly looking for ways to improve systems, and developing and training our staff to make sure they are brought up to speed.”

The Ashgrove business is divided into 25% personal lines and 75% SME commercial, which places cover for risks such as fleet motor and directors’ and officers’ liability (D&O).

Duffy said the types of businesses he is attracted to are provincial brokerages because of their loyal staff and customer base, as well as profitable books of business.

He said: “All four of the brokers we have bought are genuinely sincere about the staff and their clients and making sure there is continuity. They stay within the local area and we keep the businesses within the regions where the clients are.”

Duffy has set Ashgrove a GWP target of £25m in the next five years.

He also revealed that he is in talks with six other businesses and is confident of concluding on one of the deals by the end of the month.

The broker has two offices in Ashton-Under-Lyne, Lancashire and Ilkley in West Yorkshire.