New Cheltenham office team grows at Aston Lark, as firm announces latest financial results

Insurance broker Aston Lark acquires The Health Insurance Company

Insurance firm, Aston Lark have shared its first set of financial results since its majority stake acquisition by Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division a year ago with Bowmark LLP also re-investing in the newly created group.

As the new Group has a short first accounting period in 2019, the financial results are presented on a full year basis up to 31st December 2019 as if the Group had been in existence from 1st January 2019 together with the 2018 comparatives. The highlights are:

  • Revenue increased 25% to £71.6m in 2019
  • Organic commission and fee growth of 3.4%. A positive result against a backdrop of a highly competitive market and the economic environment
  • EBITDA growth of 30%
  • Adjusted EBITDA* of £26.9m for 2019 up 40% when adjusted to include a full 12 months of acquisitions made in 2019 along with their associated integration benefits

Aston Lark completed six acquisitions in 2019, all of which share the same passion for dedicated customer service.

  • Robertson Low Insurances Limited in March 2019, a Dublin-based broker that enables the Group to continue to trade with its clients based in the European Union after Brexit;
  • Highworth Insurance Limited in March 2019, a specialist high value and non-standard home insurance broker based in the South region;
  • Jobson James Insurance Brokers Limited alongside Jobson James Consulting Limited in April 2019, a Birmingham-based Chartered Insurance Broker specialising in the rail sector and further strengthening the Group’s presence and supplementing its growth plans in the Midlands region following two previous acquisitions;
  • Buckland Harvester Insurance Brokers Limited in August 2019, a Manchester-based broker and the Group’s first acquisition in the North West region;
  • Protean Risk Limited in October 2019, a specialist Lloyd’s broker which focusses on the investment, financial services, Fintech and technology sectors and, together with the existing Financial Institutions team, makes the Group one of the largest to service UK and European Financial Services firms; and
  • Wright Group Brokers Limited in December 2019, specialising in the commercial and transport sectors and increasing the scale of the Group’s operations in Ireland.

Additionally, in January 2020 Aston Lark also completed the acquisition of Isca Barum Insurance Brokers Limited, a specialist small holding and farm insurance broking business bolstering the group’s presence in the South West, and on 31st July 2020 acquired both Incepta Risk Management Limited, a Lloyd’s broker offering direct and wholesale solutions to expand the Group’s London Market offering and Private Healthcare Managers Limited, an employee benefits intermediary specialising in private medical insurance and group risk benefits that adds scale to the Group’s employee benefits division.

In April this year Aston Lark announced the appointment of Jim Stevenson as Associate Director and head of their new Cheltenham office. Jim joined the firm after a 19-year career at Clarke Roxburgh, Jelf and Marsh Commercial, where he was Regional Director in the South Midlands and South Wales.

The new Cheltenham office covers the three counties of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire and further afield across the Midlands and South West.

The Cheltenham team is expanding with David Mills recently joining the team as a Commercial Account Handler, to deliver day-to-day service to new and existing clients whilst supporting Jim Stevenson, introducing the Aston Lark brand into the local business community and developing new opportunities.

David said: “I am delighted to join Aston Lark in Cheltenham. I was attracted by their client focus, integrity, people development and ambitious growth plans. I am looking forward to getting started, meeting new clients and helping to grow this business.”

Jim said: “Having launched Aston Lark Cheltenham virtually in April during lockdown, it’s really exciting to open our new office as quickly as we could and bring great talent into the business to safely meet and serve our customers. Having searched extensively to get my first appointment right, David is a great hire with fantastic potential and joins me at the beginning of a bold journey to establish a new powerhouse in the Cotswolds and surrounding region.”

This has created a Group that employs over 900 people in 30 offices across the UK and Ireland placing £440m GWP into the insurance market and generating over £85m of revenues servicing clients across the commercial, commercial schemes, private clients, Lloyd’s market and employee benefits divisions.

Peter Blanc, Group CEO, commented: “We are delighted with the progress we have made and are thrilled to have completed the investment by Goldman Sachs. It is also a great vote of confidence in the Aston Lark team that Bowmark have agreed to reinvest alongside Goldman Sachs”.

“We continue to be hugely proud of our Chartered Insurance Broker status and we remain very keen to talk to like-minded brokers seeking an independent future. Our goal is to create the UK’s most trusted Chartered Insurance Broker”.

“This growth strategy is also extended to our Ireland operations where we have recruited Robert Kennedy and Mark Nolan as CEO and CFO respectively to strengthen our management team.  We have the ambition to create the leading quality independent insurance broking business in Ireland. During the year we also strengthened the Group’s Executive team with the appointment of Ian Jacob as our new Chief Risk Officer.”

“2020 is turning into a year which we would never have imagined in January. The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic across the globe has not only had significant human and economic impact but has also caused massive disruption for businesses across the UK. Within Aston Lark, we acted swiftly to transition to a working from home environment to ensure the safety of our employees and place a key emphasis on maintaining close communications with our clients via a wide range of information, support and tools to keep them updated on developments and help them navigate their way along the road to recovery”.

“To date our trading performance has held up extremely well, although we are acutely aware of the ongoing impacts of the pandemic and we will continue to closely monitor the operational, financial and macro-economic impacts as they play through. Despite Covid-19, the business is not being distracted from its aims of considering further selective strategic acquisitions as part of our growth plans.  We hope to make further announcements soon as we continue to complete deals in our healthy pipeline.”