Manchester site to deal with £150m gross written premium

Towergate’s flagship small business insurance centre is set to open in Manchester on Monday, promising a consistent customer experience and a stronger focus on new business.

In a presentation to bondholders, Towergate said the £150m gross written premium (GWP) placed by small business customers who will be served by the centre had not been the primary focus of managing directors and account executives in its 74 branches, and that the branches had no new business pipeline.

By contrast, the small business centre will have a clear focus on retention and new business, a dedicated new business team, and a new insurer panel.

The company said that it will deliver a consistent customer experience with a single recruitment and training model. Opening hours will be extended from 9am-5pm to 8am-8pm, and the focus will be on customers who spend less than £5,000 a year on insurance.

The broker will also save costs by using a single IT platform instead of several across its branches.

Towergate is making 750 redundancies across the branches and hiring 300 to 350 people in Manchester, giving it a net headcount reduction equivalent to 270 full-time employees.

The centre will open with 100 staff and grow to between 300 and 350 by the end of the year. The broker has so far received 1,500 job applications.

Group chief executive Mark Hodges said: “We’re recruiting on not just experience but behaviour and customer focus. There’s a mixture of quite intense technical and product training where it’s needed.”

Of the 750 redundancies, 210 people have already left, with the rest to follow in the next three to four months as the Manchester centre grows to full capacity.  

Hodges said Towergate would offer business retention bonuses as part of a programme to migrate the business to the single site.

“My experience of people when they’re leaving an organisation, and it’s never easy, is that they take a real pride in handing over their work in a great state. People don’t tend to say ‘oh well, I don’t care what happens’ – they’re very customer focused people,” he told Insurance Times.

“These are good people who have worked really hard and who we want to treat well and respect. It’s a difficult decision to make but I think if you’re going to move any business forward you have to make tough decisions.

“This is about wanting to do this on a bigger, better, grander scale.”