Posted on Thursday 25 February 2016 by Ulster Business
Pictured is Trevor Shaw, CEO of Abbey Insurance Brokers
A locally-owned insurance company has bought competitor Open + Direct for an undisclosed sum.
Abbey Insurance Brokers, which was founded in 1973 in Newtonabbey, has taken over the firm from Swinton Group.
The UK insurer has owned Open + Direct since 2009 and it now has over 200 staff operating in 13 branches.
They’ll be merged with the Abbey business which counts 220 employees across 15 branches.
The firm’s founder and chairman George Storey told Ulster Business it is an exciting time for the business.
“It is a big opportunity for us to grow the Abbey Insurance name,” he said. “We’re looking forward to the next chapter in the company’s history, one which provides opportunities for all the staff.”
He said the acquisitive route proved the best way to expand the company in such an ambitious manner, rather than through organic means.
“We became aware how expensive it is getting to grow our own new customers so looking for an acquisition made sense. The plans are to continue to grow the business expand the network further with four new branches.”
Mr Storey founded Abbey Insurance, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Prestige Insurance Holdings, in 1993 and said it is now Northern Ireland’s largest locally-owned insurance broker.
Trevor Shaw, CEO of Abbey Insurance Brokers welcomed the deal.
“We are very pleased that through this acquisition, we have almost doubled the size of the Abbey Insurance Brokers business and extended our branch network right across Northern Ireland,” he said. “Over 40 years in the local market, Abbey Insurance has built a very strong business, focused on customer service excellence, which is demonstrated in the fact that almost 90% of our customers return to us year after year.
“In order to secure significant further growth, we recognised the need to acquire another business. We looked carefully at Open + Direct and considered it to be a good fit with Abbey, in terms of its professional local staff, the strength of its operation and its geographical footprint.
He said it will be business as usual for customers of both firms.
“We would reassure customers of both companies that their existing insurance policies remain unaffected by this development. Our immediate priority will now be to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible for customers and staff. All Open + Direct branches and their staff will continue working under the same name in the short term, with branches gradually changing over to Abbey Insurance Brokers in due course.”
Finance for the acquisition was provided by Ulster Bank. Kenton Hilman, Head of Corporate & Property Banking NI, Ulster Bank, said: “We are delighted to support Abbey Insurance in their plans for sustainable growth. This acquisition is an important step in that strategy, and we are happy to be working closely with them to assist a growing local business in further developing its presence.
“This is one of the largest transactions of its type to have taken place in Northern Ireland in recent times, and is a welcome sign of renewed appetite for larger-scale deals in the market.