The move is designed to strengthen Bollington’s corporate offering, as well as its overall market presence

Bollington has gained FCA approval for its fourth acquisition of 2020 as it buys Bolton-based corporate insurance broker Watson Laurie.

Watson Laurie was founded in 1988 by Andrew Crompton, who was joined by Andrew Delves in 2008. The business specialises in corporate risks, property and construction, European commercial real estate financing (ECREF), latent defects insurance, SME schemes and niche areas, managing an excess of £25m in annual premiums.

Paul Moors, group chief executive at Bollington, started his career working alongside Watson Laurie’s Crompton, making the acquisition an even sweeter deal.

He said: “We are delighted to welcome Watson Laurie into the Bollington Group, as it is a company I have admired for many years. Andrew Crompton and I both started our careers at Sun Alliance as professional trainees, so we have watched our careers and businesses develop.

“Watson Laurie is established in the North West as one of the most innovative and professional corporate insurance brokers, with a track record in developing niche areas and professional connections.

“With its suite of specialisms and first-class reputation among clients in the UK marketplace, it makes an excellent addition to our expanding group”

Crompton, managing director at Watson Laurie, will join the main board of The Bollington Group upon completion of the acquisition. He added: “Completing this deal is great news for both parties.

“Watson Laurie is now part of a fast-growing and diverse group that is nationally recognised. Our clients and staff can rest assured that this development adds strength to Watson Laurie’s relationships with insurers and trading partners, giving access to more products and services in the months ahead.

“In addition, the wider Bollington Group will benefit from our expertise and experience in a number of niche areas.”

Chris Patterson, group managing director at Bollington, described the deal as a “tremendous opportunity”, adding that the firm has “long admired” Watson Laurie.

The legal adviser to Watson Laurie was Brabners and its corporate finance adviser was KPMG. Bollington was advised by and had due diligence completed by law firm DWF and financial services business Dow Schofield Watts. Funding for the transaction was provided by Permira Debt Managers, with a commitment of further facilities for future acquisitions.

Bollington has been backed by mid-market private equity firm Inflexion since November 2017.

Already this year, Bollington has purchased West Midlands-based commercial insurance broker CLA Risk Solutions, Harrogate-based insurance broker Prophet Trade Credit Limited and Ashgrove Insurance Services, a Greater Manchester-based broker.