Endsleigh-owned broker buys Clear Group book, plus more deals ahead

Endsleigh-owned Woodstock Insurance Brokers has bagged its first acquisition since bringing in a new face to head up the business.

Woodstock has bought a personal lines book from The Clear Group, the first deal since David Hadden was appointed general manager in February. Hadden reports to Tim Larden, head of Endsleigh Business Insurance Services.

Larden said: “We have completed our first acquisition. We are in conversations with four of five brokers about disposals, including two that we are in due diligence with.

“These are deals that are continuing with the core strategy of Woodstock, which is to buy books of business. Over the last six or seven years, it has made 28 acquisitions. The business model is to buy personal lines that have not been touched by aggregators.”

Woodstock founder and former chief executive Tony Simper stepped down at the end of last year.

Larden aims to expand the business by 35% in the next three years, continuing as a personal lines broker with a smaller book of commercial business. Woodstock has 21 staff and £9m gross written premium, and is indirectly backed by Zurich, which bought the remaining stake in Endsleigh in 2006.

“We return great loss ratios because our business has come from an advised background, completing a lot of smaller local deals,” Larden said.

“Woodstock is quite an old-fashioned broker. They are not clients that transact business online. It’s a very typical local brokerage, high on service levels.”

Larden said there had been four redundancies in a restructuring of the business, although the staff had left on good terms.

One of those is former operations manager Steve Gamage, who has set up Invicta Insurance Services and is buying four brokers. He is backed by Paul Cosh, formerly with Highway, Hero and Budget.

Invicta has already bought Ashford-based family-run independent insurance intermediary Williams Insurance Services and Sevenoaks-based Lowe Insurance.