The future is online for the personal lines broker ready to close its doors.
The Zurich-owned personal lines broker Endsleigh is set for a radical transformation as it considers reshaping its business strategy.
After announcing that it plans to close each of its 119 UK branches before the end of the year, Endsleigh says its future lies solely as a web-based broker after admitting that the number of customers that visit its branches has taken a nose dive.
The move followed a strategic review of the business and a declaration that it expects the number of enquiries originating from the internet, currently 80%, to increase.
An Endsleigh spokesman said: “I think any company that is focused within the way these changes are occurring would need to make strategic changes from time to time.
“Endsleigh is aligning its future strategy with consumer demands. Everyone has to be aware of the current affect of the internet.”
By switching its focus, the broker will aim to attract different markets outside of its regional based operations and place bigger emphasis on expanding its position in the market. However, it plans to retain a number of regional based relationship managers in order to service its key clients who may be affected by branch closures.
Just days after Endsleigh's announcement, high street broker Swinton announced record profits for a seventh successive year, putting great emphasis on both its branches and online channels.
Swinton said its branch network remains an integral part of the business, have increased its number of shops to 470, which included a number of new branches.
Chief executive Patrick Smith argues that consumers appreciate a “clear and fair choice” when buying insurance.
He says: “Customers who choose Swinton via a website, down the telephone or by visiting the shops tend to stay with us once they experience the benefits of having an expert local advisor at the end of a local phone or the convenience of a branch on the high street.
“This goes against the received wisdom that a majority of modern consumers are totally price driven and promiscuous when it comes to their insurance renewal.”
Endsleigh’s new model, in that it will see the broker lose its identity in the regions, may have come as a surprise to many people in the market. Crucially, however, the company maintains that the power of the online distribution channel will be enough to maintain a profitable business.