UK unit’s revenue declines for fourth consecutive quarter

“Lower performance” at Willis’s UK division in the first quarter this year has led to “a disappointing quarter” in the broking group’s newly formed Global Insurance division.

This marks the fourth consecutive quarter of revenue decline in Willis’s UK division.

Willis created its new Global Insurance division at the beginning of the year by merging its UK retail business with its London-based global specialty business.

The  company said that the new global insurance segment’s  revenue fell by a percentage in the “high single digits” in the first quarter of the year.

It said this was “primarily due to lower performance in three of the unit’s major businesses: Willis UK; transportation; and construction, property and casualty.

“The weaker performance reflects varying degrees of lower new business growth, lower retention and negative timing of revenues among those businesses.”

The company added that the creation of the new division “is designed to better connect Willis’s leading specialty expertise in the London market with the retail client servicing capabilities of Willis UK”.

Group-wide, Willis made a net profit of $246m (£146m) in the first quarter of 2014, up 12% on the $219m profit it made in the same quarter last year.

Total revenues were up 4% to $1.1bn (Q1 2013: £1.05bn), and organic growth in commissions and fees was 4.2%.

Along with the results, Willis unveiled a multi-year cost-cutting plan, under which the broker will cut support jobs and relocate 3,500 support jobs to lower-cost locations.