But new Willis Insurance UK division reports ‘mid single-digit’ growth

Willis’s UK retail business revenues have fallen for the fifth consecutive quarter, the broker’s first-half results show.

The broker did not give precise numbers its UK retail business, but said that revenues had suffered a “mid single-digit decline” in the second quarter of 2014.

Despite this, the new Willis Insurance UK division, formed in January from the merger of Willis’s UK retail business with its London-based specialties business, enjoyed a mid single-digit increase in revenues in the quarter.

The company said Willis Insurance UK’s performance was the main reason for the 3.4% organic growth posted by the Willis Global segment, which Willis Insurance UK is a part of.

Group profit slump

Group-wide, Willis’s second-quarter net profit after tax slid 55% to $47m (£28m) in the second quarter of 2014 (Q2 2013: $105m).

This was despite a 5.6% increase in revenues to $930m (Q2 2013: $885m) and organic growth of 4.5%.

Willis was hit by several costs in the quarter, including charges relating to the devaluation of the Venezuelan currency, other adverse foreign currency movements, and its group restructuring plan.

Willis chief executive Dominic Casserley said: “A number of non-cash and non-operating items significantly reduced our reported earnings this quarter but that should not detract from the performance of our business.

“We have maintained our first half underlying EBITDA [earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation] at a level consistent with last year against a backdrop of more challenging market conditions and significant investments for growth by us over the past 12 months.

“This is a good indicator of what we have achieved and can achieve, going forward.”

First-half performance

In the first half of 2014 Willis made a profit after tax of $293m, down 10% on the $324m it made in the first half of 2013.

Revenues increased 5% to $2bn (H1 2013: 1.9bn), and organic growth was 4.3% for the half.