Consolidator gets its management ducks in a row as it prepares for stock market listing

Towergate took a step closer to an initial public offering this week with the appointment of Amanda Blanc to the new role of deputy group chief executive, overseeing the broker’s retail businesses.

Group chief executive Andy Homer said the changes would bring the retail operations closer together. “As we begin all the preparation we have to do in the next year or so for an IPO, we have got to have somebody who is pulling together the distribution businesses.”

Homer added that he had no plans to retire in the next three years. “Popular demand has kept me here,” he said. “I’ll be here for at least another three years – I’m not 60 until 2013. There’s a lot of preparation for an IPO to do.”

He said it was not an “obvious leap” that Blanc would take over from him, but added that she is in a strong position, as are underwriting chief executive Clive Nathan and Paymentshield chief executive Tim Johnson.

Asked about the succession issue, Blanc said: “I don’t think anyone could answer that right now, as Towergate is awash with talent and we have a number of really strong business leaders. Obviously it’s not my decision, and I’ll just get on with the job in hand.”

She added: “IPO remains just an option, albeit a realistic one, and we are seen as an attractive company. However, I can’t see 2010 as a year when we will focus on anything other than continued organic growth, keeping our customers delighted, and investing in people and groundbreaking initiatives like PowerPlace.”

In her new role, Blanc, formerly chief executive of Towergate’s retail division, will take responsibility for online trading portal PowerPlace, and the network division, as well as the retail broking businesses.

Blanc said: “I am delighted to be taking on these exciting responsibilities and firmly believe the organic growth we will achieve in retail broking, PowerPlace and in both the Countrywide and Broker Network businesses will help redefine the general insurance landscape.”

Towergate chairman Peter Cullum said: “Amanda’s new role reflects the importance we attach to these key businesses, which we expect to grow significantly over the next three years.”

Elsewhere in the group, Broker Network promoted sales and marketing director Nick Houghton to managing director, allowing Grant Ellis, as chairman, to take a step back from the day-to-day running of the group. He will still act as a front man for the network.

Homer said: “These changes signal a strong investment in our network offering to over 700 members over the next three years, and with the energy of Nick and the knowledge and experience of Grant, we have the dream team to achieve this. Our object remains to grow membership numbers to 1,000 over this period.”

Management changes were also announced at CCV, another part of the Towergate family. Martyn Denney has been appointed sales and marketing director, joining from Broker Network Insurance Brokers. Finance director Roger Brown has been appointed operations director and David Perry will move from his role as sales and marketing director to regional managing director.