County Insurance NW Ltd – a new business arm within The County Group – is pleased to announce their first broker acquisition. A second acquisition is in legal stages.

County Insurance North West (NW) is pleased to announce the acquisition of Whitchurch Insurance Services, a £1.1m GWP business based in Shropshire. Based in the North West, Whitchurch Insurance is seen as an ideal first acquisition and has a mix of both personal and commercial customers.

Launched in October last year, County Insurance North West (NW) is part of the County Group and was set up to acquire Insurance broking businesses. The key differential for broking business owners is being secure in the knowledge that the premises, brand name, staff and customers are all maintained.

In many circumstances, the Broker principle remains in place to help run the business. The two owners of Whitchurch Insurance approached County Insurance NW as they were both seeking an exit strategy, whilst keen to ensure their legacy remained in place. It became clear after a series of meetings that both parties were in full agreement of the way forward and the business will continue to operate with the same staff and premises, supported by the operational, training and marketing support from County Group.

Dave Clapp, Managing Director of the County Group, comments: “I’m delighted we have got our first acquisition over the line and it’s exactly the sort of business we had in mind when we launched County Insurance NW. A well run community broker with loyal customers and excellent staff. With their help, and our expertise, we will now seek to grow this business further and serve the local community.”

Alastair Christopherson, the Managing Director of County Insurance NW and who played a key role in the acquisition adds; “It’s taken a few months to finalise this deal, but it’s an emotional decision to sell your business and we fully respect that. We’re really pleased that one of the previous owners has decided to stay to help run the business whilst the other owner is taking well-earned retirement. We plan to grow the business steadily over the years whilst maintaining its community presence. It’s an ideal fit for the County Group, both in its location and the current set up. We have one other acquisition in the legal stages and we hope to make a further announcement in due course.”

Background Information

County Insurance NW have identified that up to 65% of the Insurance broking market will be planning the sale and exit of their businesses within the next 5 years. Our aim is to provide a business continuity solution for brokers that is flexible, and protects their business legacy including keeping and protecting brands, staff and premises. Unlike the normal consolidation model where the office is often closed and the business is asset stripped, they are looking to inwardly invest in these businesses and the community for the long term.

The company is run by two very experienced and industry respected insurance professionals Alastair Christopherson and Phillip Knight. Both live in the North West and operate from premises in Chorley.

The County Group already have offices in Crewe and Southport and employ over 75 staff, with estimated premiums of £20million this year. Having seen and worked for large consolidating insurance groups they both recognise that the local communities are being stripped of the usually long established local insurance brokers. Biggest is not always best and not always suited to every customer.

Small brokers have been the backbone of the industry for many years, but most have sold out or are being pressured to sell to the centralised consolidating groups. The turnover of staff in such businesses is in these cases very high which affects the continuity of service to local businesses.

Also, the opportunity for New Set up brokers has become almost impossible in recent times and so the future for younger staff members needs a solution. By acquiring and investing in local brokers, County Insurance Northwest believe they have the ideal solution. They are looking at making these businesses stronger with improved buying power, exclusive products and stronger insurer relationships, in turn creating more jobs in the local communities.

Dave Clapp, now CEO at The County Group

Director Alastair Christopherson

Alastair Christopherson - Development & Distribution Director

Having worked all over the UK for the last 14 years, it is great to be able to bring my skills back to my local community and to build an Insurance Broking Business that is focused on local service, local investment and building sustainable careers for young professionals in the Northwest”.

Alastair Christopherson is an Insurance and Business professional with over 24 years’ experience in all aspects of Broking, Wholesale and Company General Insurance. In recent times he has held senior positions with the largest independent Insurance Broking group in Europe and also the largest independent broking group in the North West of England. Alastair is keen to point out what he sees as the key differentiator of County Insurance NW Ltd.

“Quite simply, we are looking to help create what we call continuity solutions for brokers wishing to part or fully sell their business. Understandably, they want to protect the business they have worked hard to build for many years and not see it disappear to some central consolidator and integrated into a much bigger business machine”. Alastair continues “We are very keen to stress that we want to work closely the business owners to develop the exit plan that suits their ambitions moving forward. We are keen to keep local brokers serving their community and happy for the broker principle to remain leading the business after the sale”

** Both Alastair and Phill are available for further comment or interview for a full understanding of the objectives and strategy of County Insurance NW Ltd. Dave Clapp remains as Managing Director of both the County Group and County Insurance Consultants Ltd **

County Insurance Consultants are a one stop shop insurance broker based in Cheshire. We offer the full range of personal insurance and business insurance. For online car & home quotes visit www.insurance4your.co.uk. For online business insurance, visit www.countyins.com. Alternatively call 01270 506980.