Income at Scottish broker set to double as it targets Lloyd's players

Scotland is not big enough for Giles Insurance Brokers, which plans to snap up a Lloyd's broker in its onward march to international domination.

Chief executive Chris Giles is already planning to move home to London after targeting rapid growth and an eventual stock market flotation.

The group expects to report £10m commission and fee income in the 12 months to the end of August 2003.

But this is forecast to almost double over the next year. The company's business plan budgets for a target of £17m based on a strong acquisition strategy.

Giles grabbed the headlines last year when it bought ailing broker Ward Evans.

Chris Giles said accounts would show that after eight months, Ward Evans was already producing revenues of about £2m and profits of about £300,000 for the group.

The firm's targets for 2004 are for a pre-tax profit of about £1.8m including growth from acquisitions and EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) of about £2.5m.

But it is in his detailed plans for the next five years that Giles' hunger for success becomes most evident.

Asked if Scotland is not big enough for him, he said: "That's right.

"We've got to be looking to expand in the major markets."

The purchase of a Lloyd's broker in the next 18 months with an increasing presence in international and UK wholesale business would help to bring commission and fee income up to £80m, with pre-tax profit of £15m in five years time.

At this point the group would aim to float, with a value of about £100m.

Giles said buying a Lloyd's broker would probably involve sacrificing some of his own personal shareholding in the family firm.

But since he owns 75% of the company, he is happy to sacrifice "a reasonable slice of that to grow the company".

He conceded that the company - now Scotland's biggest broker and still based in Irvine where it was founded in 1967 - could face a culture clash in its charge southwards.

"London is a close market and I'm a hairy-arsed Jock," he said. "I might come across brick walls but I hope not."