Insurance broker Willis eyes further acquisitions as business grows sales and profits

Willis Insurance and Risk Management executive chairman Robert Willis is joined by wife Dorothy and their four sons,who all work for the company. Front (from left) are Colin and Richard Willis; back (from left) are Mark and Stephen. Photo: Kelvin Boyes/PressEye
Gary McDonald Business Editor

FAMILY-run broker Willis Insurance and Risk Management has reported a marked uplift in sales and the doubling of its retained profit in its last trading year.

And the company, which is this year celebrating its 40th anniversary, is predicting a 30 per cent increase in turnover within the next three years as it forecasts further acquisitions.

Figures filed at Companies House reveal that in 2017 Willis upped its turnover from £3.85 million to £4.4 million, and at a nett margin of nearly 28 per cent, its bottom-line profit came in at £1.2 million - more than twice the 2016 figure of £575,184.

This, said Willis, was achieved through high client retention levels and obtaining a significant amount of new business clients in 2017.

Employee numbers at the firm stood at 60 during the year, the accounts show, with Willis having a wages bill of £2,305,075. Eight directors had a combined remuneration package of £329,185.

Willis Insurance and Risk Management, which first opened its doors in 1978, operates offices in Belfast and Hull, and says it plans to increase headcount by approximately 10 per cent this year.

The business is run by the Willis family, with Robert (73) as executive chairman and his four sons Richard, Colin, Mark and Stephen as managing director, employee benefits consultant, accident investigations director, and financial services director respectively.

Richard Willis said: “Recent growth has been driven by the acquisition of McCausland, Light and Rankin in Castlereagh and Hull-based Kennett Insurance Brokers, which enhanced our presence within England.

“We will continue to seek further opportunities for growth through strategic acquisitions whilst seeking to increase sales and expand our already impressive client base.

“At Willis IRM, we have a great team of dedicated professionals who are highly skilled in developing tailored programmes and developing practical solutions across insurance, risk management and employment services.

“As an independent broker, we also have access to a huge range of insurance providers across the UK and Ireland, meaning we have an extensive pool from which to ensure our clients benefit from the best solutions.

“It is the combination of both our exceptional employees and our customer focused ethos which has enabled us to remain a leader within the insurance industry.”

Executive chairman Robert Willis added: “Reflecting on the last 40 years, it's clear that without the dedication and application of our employees, several of which have been with us for over 20 years, we would not be the company we are today.

“We will continue to invest in the training and development of our staff and instil in them the principles of respect and integrity in all our dealings, with not only our valued clients, but also insurers and our partners.”

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