Swinton has announced a tripling of profits for 2003 with profits before tax of £15.1m. The high street broker hit 1.3 million policyholders with a net income of £95.4m, up 24% on 2002.

Chief executive Patrick Smith said: "The future of high street broking is being challenged amidst claims that fewer people use shops to purchase insurance products.

"Despite these tough market conditions and increased competition we have made a significant step forward through a substantial increase in policyholders and record pre-tax profits of £15.1m, up by over 200% from 2002."

Though the broker was rumoured to be on the market in the last quarter of 2003, the company credited support by French parent La Mutuelle du Mans Assurance for its turn around to growth over the last two years.

Finance director Peter Halpin said: "Even in an environment where premium levels are static, our organic policy growth has contributed to record pre-tax profit levels of £15.1m, more than triple those reported last year. "Our strength as a business over the past few years has been to research and deliver new, valuable products to our customer base."

  • See page 14 for our Patrick Smith interview