The company’s group underwriting director believes ‘Covid has created opportunities for growth’, however office space may be scaled back following Brightside’s acquisition due to new, pandemic-influenced working patterns

Markerstudy’s group underwriting director Gary Humphreys told Insurance Times that the firm is already looking beyond its recent acquisition of broking group Brightside, as it prepares to take advantage of the easing of the UK’s lockdown rules.

Humphreys said the firm, which also acquired the Co-op’s underwriting business in December 2020, is looking for further growth – he believes Brightside Group will deliver benefits here.

Gary Humphreys

Gary Humphreys, Markerstudy

“Part of the road map we agreed with the Co-op was to increase the number of products we would be able to offer and Brightside will bring a range of exciting new products, as well as a large amount of SME business alongside some unique distribution deals that will benefit the group,” he explained.

Redefining opportunities

This is not the first time that Markerstudy has sought to acquire Brightside. When the group was AIM listed, it invested in a sizable minority of Brightside shares, but lost out to private equity firm AnaCap when the group was put up for sale seven years ago.

Humphreys said that while the timing of the sale had been dictated by AnaCap, the current deal came at a time when the company was defining its strategy for when the restrictions around the pandemic come to an end.

“We are all aware that conditions across the personal lines sector have been challenging in the first three months of the year,” he explained.

“However, we believe as the UK comes out of the current lockdown and we see the end to the Covid support schemes it will create new opportunities.

“We believe there will be opportunities and are looking to shape the business to make the most of those opportunities, as and when they arise.”

Utilising synergies

Humphreys continued: “We see a number of opportunities around areas such as the office buildings and their use post the pandemic.”

Brightside has offices across the south coast - its headquarters are in Bristol and it also has premises in


Markerstudy has offices in Portsmouth and Humphreys said one of the first tasks for the new group will be to look at how to utilise the office space they currently occupy.

“Every indication is that once the pandemic ends and staff are able to return to their offices, there will be discussion over how staff will want to work in future,” he explained.

“We do not believe that we will return to 100% occupancy across the offices and it is very likely, given the levels of future occupation, decisions will need to be made as to which offices are retained going forwards.”

Covid-spurred growth

Despite the completion of two major acquisitions in the space of three months, Humphreys said Markerstudy is not looking to rest on its laurels.

“We have a clear plan for the growth of the group and once we obtain regulatory approval for the Brightside transaction, we already have other potential acquisitions we are actively looking to complete,” he said.

Indeed, Humphreys added that the Covid-19 pandemic and the stress it has placed on many firms has opened doors that would have been closed had the virus not occurred.

“Covid has created opportunities for growth,” he explained. “I believe there are currently potential acquisitions for businesses that would not have been available if we had not undergone Covid. This is down to the pressure it has placed on many firms.

“It has forced firms to re-examine their futures and the ability to deliver on the plans they had made before the pandemic.”

The drive for growth is down to Markerstudy’s long-term view that as the market continues to be challenging, there will be a growing need for size to smooth the bumps in specific business classes.

“We believe that the ability to leverage economies of scale will be increasingly important in the future,” Humphreys noted.

“We will look to how we can best utilise the staff and the business that Brightside will bring to the group and how we can best realise the benefits.”