Broking group says GB division’s turnaround efforts are on track

Nicolas Aubert

Willis GB made an operating profit of $84m (£54.8m) in the first nine months of 2015, down 16% on the $100m it made in the same period last year.

Fees and commissions at the division, which comprises the global broker’s UK retail UK-based specialty businesses, fell 7% to $451m (nine month 2014: $485m) and total revenues were down 7.5% to $455m (nine-month 2014: $492m).

The unit, run by Nicolas Aubert (pictured), also suffered a 0.7% decline in organic commissions and fees.

In the third quarter of 2015 alone, Willis GB’s operating profit increased 14% to $24m (Q3 2014: $21m).

But commissions and fees fell 6% to $139m (Q3 2014: $148m) and total revenues were down 5% to $141m (Q3 2014: $149m).

Organic revenue decline in the third quarter of 2015 alone was also 0.7%. This is an improvement over the 5.1% organic decline the division suffered in the third quarter of last year.

Retail drop

Willis said Willis GB’s performance in the third quarter reflected the timing of revenue recognition in certain businesses and mid-single-digit declines in transport and retail organic revenues.

This was partly offset by mid-single-digit organic growth in property and casualty and high-single-digit growth in financial lines.

Willis said: “The turnaround efforts in this segment remain on track as management continues to work to re-engineer the cost base while effectively serving large- and medium-sized corporate clients.”

Group results

At group level, Willis made a profit before tax of £348m in the first nine months of 2015, down 12% on the £395m it made in the same period last year.

Total revenues were almost unchanged at $2.86bn (nine-month 2014: $2.84bn), and organic growth was 2.8% (nine-month 2014: 3.8%).

Willis is in the process of being taken over by global consulting firm Towers Watson.

Willis chief executive Dominic Casserley said: “Despite the continued uncertain global economic and insurance market outlook, our strategy and execution have allowed us to generate consistently positive results. We believe we remain on course to achieve mid-single digit organic growth and stronger underlying revenue growth this year.”

He added: “Willis is in very good shape, and we look forward to the successful completion of the Gras Savoye acquisition and proposed Willis Towers Watson merger, which we believe will accelerate our strategy and create further value for all shareholders.”