Move follows Beckett's poaching of Towergate staff

Towergate is turning up the pressure on Bob Beckett's Bury based operation, Insurance Risk Solutions (IRS), after acquiring commercial broker Alliance Management.

The consolidating giant said it would push for organic growth in the South East, which it sees as a key battleground for business.

Towergate laid down the foundations for growth in the region, after acquiring Country Mutual Insurance Brokers (CMIB) in April last year, from NFU Mutual.

The broking operation was sold by its founder, Beckett, to NFU Mutual in 2003. Beckett remained a non-executive director of the broker until 2005.

Beckett returned to the market with broking support operation UKGI, and earlier this year launched broker support service Insurance Risk Solutions with nine former CMIB staff.

Sources close to Towergate said chairman Peter Cullum was "unhappy" that Beckett had raided the CMIB team and was exploring ways to push growth in the area.

One source said: "It is no surprise that Towergate will not take Beckett's attacks lying down."

Towergate said its latest acquisition was not a deliberate attempt to undermine IRS, although it was a strategic acquisition for opening up the South East broker market.

"We do see this as being a strong area for us," a spokesman said. "We are committed to organic growth in East Anglia. This will be through both acquisitions of staff, teams and brokers"

Paul Whittaker, a former CMIB and NFU Mutual director, has been appointed as Towergate's managing director for the East.