QBE major risks division will achieve premium income of £1bn by 2006, according to general manager Steven Price.

He made this prediction on the announcement this week that after 100 years the Iron Trades brand will be dropped and re-branded QBE Insurance from 3 November.

"We have just completed our strategy plans and we hope to achieve a premium income of £700m for the coming year. So the £1bn figure for 2006 does seem feasible.

"We also have a team around us who will die trying to achieve it."

He said QBE's traditional long-tail classes and general liability business in the London market would give a substantial boost. "I predict general liability will rise by 15% next year and the same again for 2005."

The rebranded entity, QBE Insurance, will operate alongside the QBE London market division and QBE France, under the major risks division that Price oversees.

Price admitted the French operation had been a "tough, rollercoaster ride" but he said the worst was behind it. "It is a solid business but we don't want to challenge the big French players. We have opened an office in Lyons and will be looking to write good business in the regional France," he said.

Iron Trades general manager Paul Kurgo will become general manager - UK Retail, QBE Insurance. He predicts QBE Insurance premium income will be £250m by next year. Kurgo will now control a group that writes employers' and public liability, property, liability, and motor fleet. Also under his control are: QBE Health (managed by Barry Allsworth); trade credit (managed by Derek Barnett); and claims (managed by Brian Herdman).

Kurgo said the company had finally decided to rebrand, after QBE acquired Iron Trades in February 2000, because we "finally got around to do doing it."

He said: "It is very much business as usual. We also knew we were moving out of Boundary House and into the main QBE office (Corn Exchange, 55 Mark Lane). This brings our presence from two to three floors in the Exchange.

"It was also about perception of the Iron Trades customer base. With a name like Iron Trades, people imagine it would be all steel work and metal bashers. We do have those existing clients but our future plans are not in that sector."

Kurgo said QBE Insurance would allow the Iron Trades businesses, predominantly liability, to benefit from the cross-selling of health and trade credit, which are now incorporated under the new operation.

"We don't have any plans to change our distribution strategy. We have very good support from our brokers. We have joint planning meetings with our producers and they have continued to support us and we will support them.

"Changing the name to QBE will open new doors for them. Because in the past QBE has been a difficult company to understand, because its structure is complicated from the way it has grown through acquisition. This confusion has led to missed opportunities in certain markets."

The "rationalisation" in re-branding the operation should allow better and more simple communica- tion, he added.

The Iron Trades claims centre in Leeds will be rebranded, as will the Bromley office that handles PMI work, and employs 55 people.