Jelf grows sales, cuts debt and eyes potential acquisitions

Group chief executive Alex Alway

Intermediary 'in a strong position' to grow market share

Jelf Employee Benefits saw sales increase by 5% to £19.9m in 2011 and is seeking potential acquisitions in a bid to grow its market share.

Alex Alway, chief executive of the Jelf Group, told Health Insurance the business was in a strong position to weather a potential second recession and to acquire new business.

"We are taking the opportunity with a robust set of numbers to look to invest in a few areas," he said. "We are looking to capture market share off others and have established a number of new roles in the group risk and healthcare business to generate more sales."

In recent months insurers have raised concerns about the rising cost of healthcare and although Alway suggested that there was less "price resistance" among smaller firms, he said that there was a "big focus" from larger corporate entities on getting more value from schemes.

With the threat of a "double dip" recession on the horizon, Alway said that the business was confident about its position. The Group reduced its net debt to £3m this year, down from £7.3m in 2010.

A sign of this confidence is the opening of a London office in November, which is set to have up to 10 employees, with recruitment already well underway.

"A London office acts as catalyst for activity," said Alway. "We have seen nice increase in enquiries because we are London-based."

Pension reform is another opportunity to grow business, he suggested, with auto-enrolment prompting conversations about clients' wider benefits strategy.

Although Jelf has reviewed potential acquisition targets, Alway said the strategy remained "opportunistic" with the business on the hunt for healthcare firms that fit the Jelf model.

Across the group, revenue increased by 2% to £72.1m while operating profit grew from £3.1m to £4.4m.


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