Company also has new high street ambitions

Hastings has acquired specialist broker Renew and plans to open three high street shops as part of a strategy to double its customers.

It also has launched a not-for-profit online aggregator,, which will donate £10 of every sale to charity.

No figures were given for the cost of the expansions.

Ed Fitzmaurice, its chief executive, said: “We want to become the best multi-channel broker in the UK. We also want to double our number of customers.”

The company currently claims to have 400,000 customers.

The deals come after Fitzmaurice led a £23m management buyout of Hastings and Advantage in December last year. Entrepreneur Tom Duggan and Towergate chairman Peter Cullum are thought to have provided backing for an equity stake.

Three pilot shops will open this year offering personal lines broking for travel, home and motor insurance. If successful, more branches will open, with some under a Hastings franchise brand.

Fitzmaurice said: “Since the advent of large centralised call centres and the explosion of the internet, face-to-face insurance advice and brokerage on the high street has lessened dramatically.

Added to this, the current financial climate has seen our high streets suffer from weekly closures.”

Renew has 13 staff and aims to write £10m gross written premium for 2009. It operates under two brands, Renew, which targets the over-40s, and Likewise, which caters for younger customers.

Andrew Parry will continue as managing director.

Customers using Peopleschoice can opt to donate money to a range of causes including the Pink Ribbon Foundation, a cancer charity, and the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology.

Hastings will use remaining revenue to cover the operational and marketing costs of the site, while giving any surplus profits to charity.

How Hastings looks now

  • Hastings Direct – Offers a range of products under the Hastings brand including car, household, motorcycle and travel insurance products. The products are underwritten by insurers including Axa, Chaucer, Provident and Highway
  • Advantage Insurance – A Bermuda-based insurer underwriting personal lines and commercial lines business
  • Insurepink, Insureblue and Peopleschoice – Three specialist brokers donating part of their proceeds to charity
  • Renew – A specialist personal lines broker in car, van and home insurance