Luxury retailer signs three-year insurance deal

Willis has picked up a major account in its retail business after scooping the contract for department store Selfridges from rival broker Aon, writes Danny Walkinshaw.

It is understood that the Selfridges contract ranks in the top three of Willis’s department store accounts, and it is believed the broker has agreed a three-year deal to arrange the firm’s insurance programme, which according to market sources was previously handled by Aon.

Selfridges has four stores in the UK, including its flagship London store on Oxford Street in London’s West End.

The premium paid by Selfridges is unknown. In 2002, however, the store’s premium increased fivefold to £1.9m from £400,000 the previous year, following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Willis’s retail sector team leader in London, Ailsa King, said the broker had used its “retail industry specialism” to win the Selfridges account.

King said: “Within Willis UK and Ireland, we focus on industry groups, which enables us to build specific industry expertise. This has helped us grow our retail client base significantly, delivering clearly differentiated propositions for our clients. Selfridges were impressed by our approach to insurance programme design and claims service. We are very proud to have Selfridges as a client.”

Aon declined to comment on the Selfridges account. The broker was dealt another blow this week when three senior brokers in its UK aviation team handed in their notice as they prepared to join Jardine Lloyd Thompson.

According to sources, the trio consists of team leader Bill Smith, client executive John Cruse and team leader Steve Turner.

Aon refused to confirm whether the individuals had in fact resigned, but said that the company is a “major force” in aviation and it was committed to expanding the team.

Aon has around 97 people in its UK aviation team.

JLT’s aviation arm employs 65 staff, but the company is looking to increase this to 100.