Kiln has shown an improvement in underwriting performance to post a pre-tax loss of £2.7m in 2000, compared to a £6.7m loss in 1999.

The Lloyd's syndicate's written premiums were up 101% to £173.4m from £86.15m; operating profits showed a loss of £0.9m compared to a loss of £7.6m in 1999; and returns on investment increased to £5m, from £3.7m in 1999.

Although Kiln said it was disappointed that this last figure was not even greater, executive chairman David Gilchrist still called 2000 a “milestone” year for the company.

“Our new management team and a greatly improved rating environment combine to present a very bright outlook,” he said. Kiln's underwriting arm showed a technical profit of £1.31m, up from £3.05m loss in 1999.

The retail side of the business, Link Insurance Services, is still up for sale. The bulk of Link's book is motor insurance, but it also writes household, commercial and accident and health insurance.

Kiln's 100% shareholding in an investment fund manager, Burrage & Co, has recently been sold for £2.4m, the proceeds of which will be taken into the half-year accounts at June 2001. The firm was started under the Kiln umbrella in 1984.

Over the next three years, Kiln aims to achieve £500m capacity under new management. Edward Creasy will take over as chief executive officer on July 1, 2001, and Robert Chase will become director of underwriting.

Chairman David Gilchrist is to retire on July 1. He will be succeeded by Ian Percy. Board member Sir Raymond Johnstone will also retire on July 1, 2002.