Insurance was the silver lining in Berkeley Berry Birch's cloud last year.

The financial services distributor reported growing overall losses, which reached £6.9m in the year ended 1 March against £2.7m in the 14 months to 31 March 2002.

Turnover in the insurance division was £3.5m, against £3.4m in the prior period and it made an operating profit of £708,000 against £170,000.

Chief executive Stephen Ingledew blamed the group's poor performance on its financial advisory operation, stock market depression, lack of consumer confidence and government intervention.