Departure of top executives marks the start of move to phase out existing brands

Venture Preference is to begin the process of integrating its brokers following the shake-up which saw top executives Paul Meehan and Chris Blackham leave the company.

Stuart Reid has been appointed sole chief executive of the AXA-owned broking giant. He was previously joint chief executive of Venture Preference with Meehan and Blackham.

Reid said: “It was always understood that we needed one chief executive and that once one was appointed the other two would leave.

“It is fundamentally important to start integrating the disparate businesses into one. One chief executive is an important step toward this. It was always the plan to begin integration after 12 to 18 months [from the formation of Venture Preference].”

Reid added that senior management positions would be announced shortly. He also stressed that the integration would not lead to redundancies.

Venture Preference was launched in January 2007 with the acquisition of Stuart Alexander, Reid’s broking firm, and Layton Blackham, run by Blackham.

Harrogate-based Smart & Cook, headed by Meehan, was acquired in April 2007.

A series of smaller acquisitions followed, taking Venture Preference to over £500m in gross written premiums.

It is expected that Venture Preference will be rebranded later in the year.

Once this happens, the brands of the acquired businesses will be phased out.

Reid said the company’s acquisition drive would continue, but the pace of purchases would inevitably slow as the number of medium to large sized acquisition targets began to fall. “There is not much left [to acquire]. The market itself will slow down,” said Reid.

Meehan and Blackham’s plans were not clear, as Insurance Times went to press.