Abbey doubles workforce in multimillion pound deal

Trevor Shaw, CEO, Abbey Insurance Brokers.  INCT 05-736-CON
Trevor Shaw, CEO, Abbey Insurance Brokers. INCT 05-736-CON

A Carrickfergus-based insurance broker has almost doubled its workforce after taking over a rival business.

Abbey Insurance Brokers announced this week that it had bought Open and Direct from its current owners in a multimillion pound deal.

The firm, which currently employs 220 people, will take on an additional 200 staff at Open and Direct’s 13 branches.

Abbey was established in 1973 in Newtownabbey by George Storey, who is now group chairman. It currently operates 15 branches, with its customer services department based at Governors Place.

Meanwhile, Open and Direct has been owned by the UK-based Swinton Insurance Group since 2009.

All Open and Direct staff have transferred across to Abbey under the terms of the agreement.

Trevor Shaw, CEO of Abbey Insurance Brokers, said: “We are very pleased that through this acquisition, we have almost doubled the size of the Abbey Insurance Brokers business and extended our branch network right across Northern Ireland. 

“Over forty-plus years in the local market, Abbey Insurance has built a very strong business, focused on customer service excellence, which is demonstrated in the fact that almost 90 percent of our customers return to us year after year.”

In order to secure further growth, the company recognised the need to acquire another business. 

“We looked carefully at Open and Direct and considered it to be a good fit with Abbey, in terms of its professional local staff, the strength of its operation and its geographical footprint,” Mr Shaw added.

“We would reassure customers of both companies that their existing insurance policies remain unaffected by this development. Our immediate priority will now be to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible for customers and staff. 

“All Open and Direct branches and their staff will continue working under the same name in the short term, with branches gradually changing over to Abbey in due course. Customers are being kept fully informed.”

Finance for the acquisition was provided by Ulster Bank. Kenton Hilman, head of Corporate and Property Banking NI at the bank, said: “We are delighted to support Abbey Insurance in their plans for sustainable growth. This acquisition is an important step in that strategy, and we are happy to be working closely with them to assist a growing local business in further developing its presence.

“This is one of the largest transactions of its type to have taken place in Northern Ireland in recent times, and is a welcome sign of renewed appetite for larger-scale deals in the market.”