Specialist insurance broker snapped up by acquisitive national group

March 7, 2021

Wiltshire specialist personal and commercial insurance broker Advance Insurance Agencies has been acquired by a fast-growing national group.

Under the takeover by Jensten Group, Westbury-based Advance – which has an office in Swindon – will now form a centre of excellence for specialist personal lines, enabling Jensten to offer an expanded service to clients of its Coversure franchises and wholly owned broking operation.

The Advance brand will be retained in line with London-headquartered Jensten’s integration model.

Business development manager Matt Jones will become managing director, taking over the day-to-day running of the business from founding shareholder Clive Woods, who will move into a consultancy role for a transitional period.

Fellow founding shareholder and director Samantha Woods is retiring. Advance, which employs 82 staff across its offices in Swindon, Westbury, Chippenham and Trowbridge, handled £16m gross written premium (GWP) prior to the takeover. 

Clive Woods said: “We were attracted to Jensten by the pragmatic and efficient approach of the merger and acquisition team, the strong cultural overlap and their innovative and unique approach to buying brokerages.

I have no doubt the clients, staff and business as a whole will flourish under Jensten’s ownership and look forward to working with the Jensten team to take the business we have proudly built to the next level.”

It is Jensten’s second acquisition this year and the latest step on its ambitious buy-and-build growth strategy focused on expanding its specialist insurance capability. Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed.

Jensten was formed in 2018 following an MBO of the Coversure Group, which was originally established in the UK in 1986. It currently controls around £245m GWP and has a publicly stated ambition to reach £500m within the next three to five years.

As well as its retail insurance division Coversure, the group also includes leading online insurance wholesalers Policyfast and specialist underwriting business City Underwriters Limited (CUL).

Jensten Group Chief Executive Alistair Hardie said: “Adding Advance to the Jensten family is not only about supporting the continued growth of a strong local broking business, but also enables us to add new capabilities that further enhance our specialist insurance market appetite. Clive and Sam have built a fantastic business and their niche orientation fits neatly with our strategic direction.

“I am excited about how we can take their lead generation expertise and apply it across our group to drive further organic growth in Jensten brokers and our Coversure franchise network.” 

Bristol law firm VWV has advised Clive and Samantha Woods, working alongside Chippenham and Devizes-based accountants and tax advisers Mander Duffill.

The VWV team was led by corporate partner Nathan Guest, pictured, who said: “I could not be more pleased for Clive and Sam, who have worked tirelessly over more than 20 years to build a fantastic business.

“Selling your business is challenging on many levels and although they had no prior experience of a corporate transaction on this scale, they threw themselves into the process with a level of diligence that gave everyone confidence.

“They were an absolute delight to work with.  There were plenty of late evening virtual meetings, but these were as entertaining as they were instructive! We look forward to continuing to work with them both in the future.”


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