In­surer Tow­er­gate puts the bad days be­hind it

Yorkshire Post - Business - - BUSINESS - GREG WRIGHT DEPUTY BUSI­NESS EDITOR ■ Email: greg. wright@ ypn. co. uk ■ Twit­ter: @ greg­wrightyp

TOW­ER­GATE IN­SUR­ANCE has in­creased its staff num­bers in York­shire by around 60 peo­ple over the last year, as its turn­around con­tin­ues un­der new own­ers.

The busi­ness has been ma­jor­ity owned by High­bridge Prin­ci­pal Strate­gies since Fe­bru­ary 2015. The ac­qui­si­tion fol­lowed a tur­bu­lent time for the firm. In Novem­ber 2014, it re­vealed it had fully drawn its re­volv­ing credit fa­cil­ity, rais­ing fears among bond hold­ers that it was no longer a go­ing con­cern.

Thir­teen months ago, Tow­er­gate ac­cepted an of­fer from its cred­i­tors which led to an injection of £ 375m cap­i­tal into the firm, and also re­duced its net debt by 60 per cent. Be­fore this deal, pri­vate equity firm Ad­vent In­ter­na­tional had been Tow­er­gate’s largest share­holder.

John Simp­son, the Leeds­based area di­rec­tor for Tow­er­gate In­sur­ance Bro­kers, said the fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity that came with the High­bridge ac­qui­si­tion was giv­ing the com­pany the con­fi­dence to hire new staff and move into new of­fices.

The com­pany now em­ploys around 530 staff across York­shire, where it has of­fices in Hull, Leeds, Hal­i­fax, Sh­effield and Knares­bor­ough.

Mr Simp­son said: “We have seen a steady im­prove­ment in client re­ten­tion and a steady in­crease in sales, and that has com­bined to give us some nice growth over the past 12 months.

“We are re­ally keen on or­ganic growth. A re­ally im­por­tant part of that is get­ting fresh tal­ent in the busi­ness. In ad­di­tion, we’re look­ing to de­velop our spe­cialisms, so across the North, we’re em­ploy­ing peo­ple like risk man­agers, health and safety ex­perts and en­vi­ron­men­tal ex­perts. This is deal­ing with some of the newer classes of in­sur­ance that are creep­ing up on us, and are re­ally im­por­tant to our clients, so we need to hire peo­ple to sup­port that ef­fort.”

Mr Simp­son said that the UK crane hire mar­ket was one spe­cial­ist area that had en­joyed growth as the econ­omy re­cov­ers.

He added: “Know­ing that we are now fi­nan­cially se­cure gives us con­fi­dence... we have moved into new of­fice space in Sh­effield re­cently, and Leeds has also moved into new of­fice space... so we’re im­prov­ing our work­ing en­vi­ron­ment for staff.

“We’ve got the con­fi­dence now to do that.

“We’ve got the con­fi­dence to hire peo­ple. That’s where the dif­fer­ence has been made.”

“What was re­ally in­ter­est­ing ( in 2014) was how peo­ple pulled to­gether. Peo­ple do that in the face of ad­ver­sity. It’s a nat­u­ral hu­man re­ac­tion.

“We saw some fan­tas­tic cus­tomer loy­alty. We couldn’t in­flu­ence out­side events but we knew that we had a re­ally solid busi­ness. Leeds is a fan­tas­tic place for tal­ent. It’s a real hot­bed.”

In Tow­er­gate’s most re­cent trad­ing up­date, which cov­ered the nine months to Septem­ber 30, David Ross, the com­pany’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, said that the com­pany’s per­for­mance had been af­fected by a “well doc­u­mented pe­riod of in­sta­bil­ity” but there were signs the busi­ness was stabilising.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.