Swinton is to re-enter commercial insurance with the launch of a direct arm aimed at the SME market.

The new unit, Swinton Business, will launch in April with liability, building and contents and commercial vehicle cover.

The products will be offered through a panel of five insurers: MMA, Allianz Cornhill, NIG, Groupama and Fortis with the possibility that two more could be added in the near future.

Business manager Carolyn Callan said: "Customers will be able to complete the transaction from quote through to sale on the phone.

"There is a big opportunity here and we have the backing of a good brand with a huge database of customers to work from."

She said the commercial launch was aimed at

businesses with up to ten employees. These included shops, offices, surgeries, pubs and restaurants, home workers and contractors.

Among initial targets were expanding the current workforce to 80 advisers and turning over £20m in premiums in three years.

Callan said: "The targets are challenging but they are achievable.

"While we plan to grow organically we will be absorbing commercial

business from personal

lines brokers acquired by Swinton."

While the new business will operate as a telephone-based direct sales unit, Callan explained she would be using the broker's 350 branches for referrals and marketing.

She also confirmed the company was looking at launching a legal expenses policy to run alongside the current offering.