Management: Jason Stockwood joined Xbridge as chief executive in May 2010, bringing with him experience from online businesses including lastminute.com. He sees the firm enter the Top 50 for the first time this year, as forecast by Insurance Times in 2011.
Strategy: Founded in 2000 by Brad Liebmann, who remains the largest shareholder, the technology-based broker provides a range of services to small and large businesses. These include insurance, which is sold through the flagship brand Simply Business. This formula saw Xbridge grow revenue by 21.4% in 2011 to £19.5m.
42nd Direct Group
Management: The Doncaster-based outsourcing firm’s chief executive Derek Coles and chief operating officer Scott Hough led a management buy-out in August 2007. Private equity firm LDC backed the £40m deal. Now, with a top line of £18.9m for the year to January 2012, Direct Group is in the Top 50 for the first time. EBITDA was £6.21m for the year.
Strategy: Direct Group further diversified its offer in June with the acquisition of Simple Insurance from Leeds-based UK General for £15m with a Lloyds Bank loan. Simple operates mainly online, providing cover for landlords and caravan owners, as well as travel insurance.
43rd Berry Palmer & Lyle
Management: Managing director Robin Harper oversaw BPL entering the Top 50 last year, after it grew 48%. Now he can celebrate a move up six places in the 2012 league, with revenue of £18.1m for the year to March 2011.
Strategy: Although top-line growth for the year was only 2.9%, the broker, which specialises in emerging market risk, continued to improve its numbers, with EBITDA rising 23.9% to £7.41m.
44th AHJ Holdings
Management: Marine specialist Gary Masters was appointed chief executive of Alwen Hough Johnson in April 2011, having been with the reinsurance broker since 1982. Former chief executive Hugh Price continues as chairman.
Strategy: Up from 48 last year, the privately owned Lloyd’s broker grew 1.3% in 2011, reaching revenue of £17.9m and reported EBITDA of £3.8m. The firm agreed last year to sell its shares in BMS Group back to the company for £8m, a process to be completed in 2013.
45th Be Wiser
Management: Chairman Mark Bowyer-Dyke fronts this new entrant in the Top 50, which grew by 43% in the year to May 2012, hitting a top line of £17.4m and EBITDA of £2.4m.
Strategy: Andover-based Be Wiser provides motor and home insurance and a number of add-ons, including helmet and leathers cover, car finance and RAC breakdown cover.
Management: The OAMPS Group was purchased by Wesfarmers, an Australian conglomerate, in 2006. Managing director David Barrett joined Oamps in 1989 and takes executive responsibility for all of the OAMPS Group UK divisions. Howard Pearson, a previous Biba board member, joined in 2011 as the divisional broking director after previous senior roles with Giles and Miller.
Strategy: The business is split into three insurance divisions, dealing with general insurance; petrochemical insurance, building on the group’s heritage as a petrochemical specialist; and special risks, for the Lloyd’s market.
Management: Chief executive Angus Keate sees his firm enter the league, having boosted revenue 1.9% to £16m, according to its latest available figures, for 2010. EBIDTA was £3.28m.
Strategy: The broker offers a range of financial services to commercial clients, with particular expertise in rural and equine cover, offered through specialist broking divisions.
48th Kerry London
Management: Damian Kissane is another chief executive whose firm has entered the Top 50 this year. He’s been in his current role since 2008 and previously worked in investment banking.
Strategy: Kerry London’s revenue actually shrank by 2% to £15.3m, according to its last reported results, for 2010. But consolidations among brokers higher up our rankings, including Ageas and Towergate, means the broker secured a place in the Top 50 nonetheless. Also, EBITDA was up by an enviable 50% to £1.03m.
49th Aston Scott
Management: Chairman Andrew Scott delivered a whopping 72.7% rise in revenue in the year to 30 June 2012 at this new entrant. EBITDA rose 43.6% to £3.75m.
Strategy: The Kent-headquartered commercial broker has grown to more than 200 employees in 11 locations in the UK, through organic growth and acquisitions.
Management: Chief executive Simon Rice led a management buy-out in 2009 of SBJ Global Risks, which was rebranded Lonmar Global Risks in March 2010. A new entrant, the Lloyd’s broker’s revenue fell by 26.3% in 2011 to £15.3m, with EBITDA plummeting 113.8%.
Strategy: The company’s 2010 results were hit by £1.6m of exceptional legal costs after losing a legal battle with former employees who defected to Tysers, and a £2.1m exceptional repayment to underwriters after Lonmar’s marine division overcharged them.
Lonmar seems determined to recover, targeting £25m in revenue within three to five years.