Sheffield-based commercial broker Hart Owens broke through the £1m income barrier and nearly doubled its pre-tax profit in the 12 months to 30 April 2003.

Managing director John Hart said the company's success came from concentrating on quality of service and focusing on larger clients.

"The secret is that we don't do a lot of bottom end. We keep things big and over-service our clients," he said.

Hart said the company's average premium is about £100,000. He saw the company's activity as managing, rather than broking, insurance.

"We work on the basis that if a client could employ a full-time insurance person, that's what they would get," he said.

The group, which won an Insurance Times Industry Award for best risk management initiative in 2000, became a provisionally accredited Lloyd's broker in July.