Aston Lark presents its first full year of financial results since its majority stake acquisition by Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division in September 2019, alongside the re-investment by Bowmark Capital LLP.
As the Group had a short first accounting period in 2019, comparisons of 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.
The highlights were:
- Revenue increased 28% to £91.7m in 2020;
- Core organic commission and fee growth of 4.4%. A positive result against a backdrop of the economic environment during the Covid-19 pandemic and a highly competitive market with hardening rates in certain sectors;
- Underlying EBITDA growth of 26% on a Reported basis;
- Underlying EBITDA up 22% when adjusted to include a full 12 months of acquisitions made along with their associated integration benefits compared to 2019 on the same basis.
Operational & Strategic Highlights
Aston Lark has undertaken significant changes to the business during 2020 relating to both acquisition and group integration related activities, alongside strengthening the senior management team. The key highlights are:
- Eight acquisitions completed in 2020, with a further 17 acquisitions undertaken in 2021, increasing the scale of the Group's Retail, Employee Benefit, Ireland and London Market operations;
- Investment in a new joint venture to form a Managing General Agent platform that aims to invest in existing MGAs and create new ones with like-minded entrepreneurial teams and people;
- Recruitment during 2020 of a new Group Chief Risk Officer, a new CEO and CFO in Ireland, and a new Managing Director of UK Retail to strengthen the senior management team to support the Group's growth; and
- The successful integration of a number of acquired businesses into the main trading entities within the Group to provide increased efficiencies.
The acquisitions, who all share the same passion for dedicated customer service, enhance the Group’s offerings in the following areas:
- London Market via Brunel Professions, ES Risks and Incepta Risk Management, Lloyd’s brokers offering specialist Professional Indemnity, bespoke and niche wholesale facilities to insurance industry clients and direct and wholesale solutions, respectively;
- Increasing scale of operations in Ireland, via the acquisitions of Brady Burns Associates, North County Brokers, McMahon Galvin and D O’Loughlin & Co;
- Building the MGA platform via the acquisitions of the Magenta brand and Neon Sapphire;
- Specialisms in specific industry sectors such as super yachts and marine pleasure craft, property self-build and latent defects, motor trade, haulage and logistics, concrete and small holdings and farms via the acquisitions of CRS Yachts, the Haven Knox-Johnston brand, Sennocke, DNA, Risk Alliance, Premier Insurance Consultants and Isca Barum;
- Expanding presence in geographical areas across the UK, including Scotland (Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers), the North West (Premier Insurance Consultants), Midlands (Dunsby Associates) and South West (Venture Insurance Brokers); and
- Increasing the scale of the Group’s employee benefits division via the acquisitions of Private Healthcare Managers, Right to Health and The Health Insurance Specialists.
This has created a Group that employs over 1,500 people in over 50 offices across the UK and Ireland, placing c.£900m GWP into the insurance market and servicing over 200,000 clients across the UK and Ireland.
Peter Blanc, Group CEO, commented: “We are delighted with the progress we have made since having secured Aston Lark’s independence in September 2019. The support of both Goldman Sachs and Bowmark has provided a long-term platform for the Group’s growth plans that has been underpinned by the acquisitions we have completed to date and the healthy pipeline in train.
“To supplement our growth plans we also made investment in our senior management team, recruiting Robert Kennedy and Mark Nolan as CEO and CFO respectively in Ireland, and Warren Dickson as UK Retail Managing Director. Earlier in the year in January 2020, we also strengthened the Group’s Executive team with the appointment of Ian Jacob as our new Group Chief Risk Officer to ensure that governance and oversight of the business remains proportionate to our growth plans.
“2020 has been a year which we would never have imagined at the start. 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.
“Within Aston Lark, we acted swiftly to transition to a working from home environment to ensure the safety of our employees and we placed a key emphasis on maintaining close communications with our clients.
“We have demonstrated strong resilience during the pandemic with our trading performance holding up extremely well whilst continuing to closely monitor our exposures to Covid-19 and we are working towards taking the best working practices to enable a new ‘normal’ for operations, balancing home and office working and improving quality of life for employees.
“We are immensely proud of all our staff who have worked tirelessly throughout the year, and we continue to be hugely proud of our Chartered Insurance Broker status, and 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.”