Groupama will enter the high net worth (HNW) market at the beginning of next year, despite the company's imminent sale.

Groupama's new HNW director Richard Hawkins, recruited from Marsh, said the unnamed product would actually help attract a buyer.

The decision to enter the HNW market had already been made when Groupama's French parent company put the firm up for sale last month.

“We'd hope and expect our new owner to support this project,” Hawkins said.

“Because we're up for sale doesn't mean we, as a group, are going to sit around and vegetate.”

Groupama will compete directly against HNW market leaders Chubb, Hiscox, Oak and Royal & Sunalliance's Prime Choice.

However, Hawkins said there was room for another player because of the recent exits of Cox, Independent Insurance and Chubb in the attempt to purchase Hiscox.

“It's a great area of business, because the number of what we call affluent people is set to grow,” he said. “People are earning more, the elderly are living longer and people are retiring younger with more money.”

RK Harrison HNW broker Peter Currell agreed there was room in the “shrinking” market for another provider, but warned that Groupama needed a UK buyer for the new product to succeed..

“If it was a UK insurer of good repute, it'd be no problem, but if it's an overseas insurer, people will be a little cautious,” he said.