Stuart Reid hails the integration of SBJ into Venture Preference as step towards 2010 target.

The chief executive of Venture Preference (VP), Stuart Reid, has pledged to meet his target of £1bn GWP by 2010 by making further acquisitions, following the integration of SBJ into the business.

Reid said that despite the difficult economic climate, VP was still looking for brokers to buy, though he added that he did not expect consolidation to begin again in earnest until next year.

He said: “We have set ourselves a target of £1bn GWP by 2010. The only way we will get to that position is to acquire.” He added that while there were fewer buyers in the market because of the difficulties of raising credit, there were still plenty of brokerages for sale.

Reid spoke to Insurance Times following the announcement that SBJ, which VP’s parent company AXA acquired in March, would be integrated into the VP business, taking the broker’s GWP to £700m, and giving it 2,000 employees, a wider geographical footprint with 64 offices nationwide, and its own Lloyd’s broker.

He said that while some of VP’s Lloyd’s business would be placed through SBJ’s Lloyd’s arm, the broker would continue to work with other partners in the Lime Street market.

Reid said that the integration had taken several months to complete because of the size and scope of SBJ and insisted that it had always been planned.

He added that smaller acquisitions could be made by VP itself, rather than AXA.

As part of the move, the former chief executive of SBJ, Howard Fryer, has taken on a new role as one of VP’s regional managing directors, reporting to the managing director of trading, Graham Coates. Fryer will take on some of Nick Inge’s responsibilities. Inge, former regional managing director for the South for Layton Blackham, one of the acquired companies that formed VP, left the business in June.

Judy Baker will become corporate client services director on the operations board, reporting to chief operating officer, Shaun Hooper.

VP said that Baker would focus on the broker’s corporate clients and would work across the group to help improve acquisition, retention and the development of corporate accounts. Elaine Owen will be taking up the post of regional director for the North West while Chris Ladkin has been appointed regional director for South West, reporting to Fryer.

Howard Steeples will continue as chairman of SBJ Global Risks and will join the VP management committee as a non-exec director, while Darryl Druckman has been appointed as integration and acquisition director for VP. He replaces Geoff Bradford.

Reid confirmed that VP, which still trades under the names of its constituent businesses, would launch a new brand for all its acquisitions by the end of this year.