Gallagher’s chief executive of UK retail Michael Rea says the purchase of Risk Services marks a return to the M&A space

Gallagher’s return to acquisitions yesterday will be the first of many this year and into 2019.

This is according to the group’s chief executive of UK retail Michael Rea, who said the reason for the four year gap between their last series of acquisitions and that of Risk Services Ltd was to give those brokers time to integrate within the Gallagher brand.

Rea said the organisation reached a point in the middle of last year when they felt the integration had been completed, and that since then they have been searching for the right regional brokers to acquire.

He added: “What we are looking to do is buy regional community brokers that are commercially led where we have a good cultural fit, so it’s certainly the first of a number of acquisitions we plan to make in 2018 and beyond.

“It is the Gallagher model to find like-minded businesses looking for the next stage of their development. I wouldn’t describe it as a new strategy, it’s very much the existing strategy, we just had it on pause because we had a couple of very big businesses to digest in 2016 and 2017.

“I would expect us to buy a number of businesses through the remainder of 2018 into 2019 and they will all look pretty similar – they will be community brokers commercially led, and businesses that are a good fit with the ethos of our organisation.”

Rea said no time frame was set on how long this integration period would take when Gallagher acquired Giles, Oval and Oamps around four years ago, before returning to UK broker acquisitions and that it “preferred to get it right, than get it quick”.

He added: “There’s a ready supply of good regional community brokers to invest in and we also have a fantastic platform across the UK now with 50 offices all the way from Aberdeen down to Exeter.

“So wherever we find a business looking for a new home we’ll have an existing office within 10-15 miles of it and that always facilitates a much easier integration and means they can buddy up with a local office, smoothening the process of bring them into the Gallagher family.”

Risk Services are also now set to go through an integration period, but Rea confirmed this would not involve any management changes.

He added: “We have an integration plan for Risk Services and that will follow all the usual areas of investment around aligning placement strategy and aligning technology, most importantly making sure the team in Chester feel part of Gallagher.

“That’s the single most important part of any integration, making sure they feel a part of the organisation as quickly as possible and we will do that through good communication and making sure they feel a part of the estate.”