Disagreements over sales and profit sparked Andy Heap’s resignation, says Ignition insider

The chief executive of Ignition New Business Solutions, Andy Heap, has resigned from the AXA-owned business.

It is believed Heap left the Lancashire-based broker marketing consultancy last week to work on a new venture.

Axa confirmed his departure and revealed that he has been replaced by Mike Butler, head of commercial marketing at Axa Insurance, who will oversee the business in the interim.

However, a source close to Ignition said Heap left following disagreements with Philippe Maso, chief executive of Axa Insurance, over the direction of the business. “They couldn’t agree,” the source said. “Maso has not been happy with sales and profit in the company.”

A senior Axa source said he was unaware of any conflict and added that Ignition remained a key part of the business.

Ignition was acquired in November 2007 by Peter Hubbard, Maso’s predecessor, through subsidiary Axa Services, to support AXA’s broker partners in the small and medium-sized enterprise market. It remained a separate organisation outside AXA’s operational control.

After the deal, AXA said it would provide “significant investment to help it grow its state-of-the-art marketing consultancy services, including meeting the needs of new target markets”.

The following January, Derek Findlayson, Groupama’s UK business development manager, joined Ignition as sales and distribution director to support the expansion of the business.

Last October, Ignition headhunted a team of seven regional development directors to act as marketing managers for brokers after it launched a number of services.

Butler said it was too early to say whether the company would undergo any major changes but that it was “very much business as usual”.

“The proposition, which I think is market leading, is very relevant to our broker partners and I think it is important to retain that going forward,” he said. “I have actually been working with Ignition closely for the past year. It is complementary to what I’m doing already.”