Booming profits in the 12 months to August 2002 helped fuel a spending spree at Giles Insurance Brokers.

Organic growth and an acquisition - that of Gerry Cottle and Company in the Midlands - generated bumper results that set the company up for its purchase of Ward Evans in December.

Chairman Nick Giles and chief executive Chris Giles also made their own acquisitions.

They used interest-free loans from the company of more than £90,000 each to buy more than £1m worth of property, some of which is rented to the company.

Nick Giles said: "We purchased, during the year, five properties. Four of them are rented back to the company.

"The interest-free loan was to fund the deposit on these properties.

"We don't see any sense in putting property on the balance sheet."

Glasgow-based Giles Insurance hit the headlines when it stepped in to buy Leeds-based Ward Evans after it suffered a failed MBO.

Giles' accounts show that turnover was up 46% and profit before tax was up 303%.

Nick Giles said that Cottle made a relatively modest contribution of about £800,000 to the group's income in the relevant period. However, he said the contribution from Cottle - now Giles Corporate - would be much bigger this year.

That acquisition was funded by a loan from Clydesdale Bank. The accounts record bank loans and overdrafts reached £825,000 in the period, up from a mere £20,000 the year before.

The goodwill and assets of Ward Evans Corporate were bought from working capital.