Swinton Insurance

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Swinton Group Ltd
Subsidiary
Industry Insurance
Founded 1957 (1957)
Founder Ken Scowcroft
Headquarters Manchester, United Kingdom
Number of locations
More than 200
Products Home insurance, motor insurance, business insurance, caravan insurance, bike insurance, van insurance, taxi insurance
Owner Covéa SGAM
Number of employees
More than 3,000
Website www.swinton.co.uk

Swinton Insurance is a UK insurance retailer that was established in 1957.[1] It has a network of branches across the United Kingdom and in excess of 3,000 employees.[2] The company offers a range of insurance products from a panel of UK insurers covering car, bike, home, commercial, taxi and caravan insurance.[3]

History[edit]

Swinton was founded in 1957 by Ken Scowcroft (born 1928[4]) who began the car insurance brokerage business from the front room of his semi-detached house in Swinton, Greater Manchester.[5] The first premium cost just over £5, and in the first year, he sold around 100 policies to local people.[6]

Branch in Headingley, Leeds (now closed)

The first branch was opened in 1964 in Salford, and the branch network originally expanded in the Manchester region before it expanded throughout the North West of England.[7] It was then merged with Denbury Insurance owned by Brian Blake, retaining the Swinton Insurance name. The company became the first insurance franchise and the first to introduce a computer quotations system, which is now common in major UK insurers.[8] In 1981, Ken Scowcroft's son, Brian Scowcroft, joined the business and worked in a number of different roles including Finance Director [9] before being appointed Joint Chief Executive in 1985.[10]

In 1988 Swinton was sold to Sun Alliance[11] for £130m [12] and in 2001 it changed hands again when it was acquired by MMA Holdings UK Plc.,[13] which is, in turn, owned by Covéa SGAM (Société de Group d'Assurance Mutuelle).

In 2002, The Swinton Insurance Group acquired the specialist caravan and motorhome insurer, Safeguard,[14] and in 2004, it acquired Manchester based insurance group Deansgate Insurance.[15]

By 2008, Swinton had become the third largest insurance retailer in the UK, and the largest in Northern Ireland, managing over three million individual car, home and life insurance policies.[16] Their position in the Northern Ireland market was further bolstered with the acquisition of Open + Direct in 2009.[17]

The Swinton Insurance Group continued their UK-wide acquisition strategy in 2012 with the purchase of Greys Insurance in Burnley.[18] In 2013, they then purchased Stroud based insurers Alexander James Commercial [19] before agreeing a deal to buy the general insurance book of North Wales-based Anderson Insurance Services in 2014[20] and the Cleethorpes based C H Turner Insurance Consultants.[21]

Chief Executive Christophe Bardet stepped down at the end of December 2014 and was succeeded by Gilles Normand, formerly the CEO of MMA Holdings UK Plc.[22]

Notable advertising[edit]

Swinton Insurance was the first Insurance Broker to advertise on the television in the 1960s.[23] In the 1980s Swinton were known for TV Adverts featuring a 'Man with Big Glasses'.[24]

In the 1990s Swinton Insurance ran a TV commercial starring Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward and her Butler Aloysius Parker.[25] The TV Commercial was Directed by Thunderbirds Creator Gerry Anderson and featured recreated models made by David Sisson Models.[26] As part of this advertising campaign, an additional TV Commercial was created featuring Thunderbirds character Brains.[27]

In addition, adverts also ran featuring Emmerdale actor John Middleton [28] and the animated TV characters of The Flintstones.[29]

Controversy[edit]

In 2009, Swinton was fined £770,000 by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) for mis-selling payment protection insurance (PPI) policies.[30] In July 2013, Swinton was fined £7.4m by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in relation to sales of monthly insurance products sold by telephone between April 2010 and April 2012.[31]

Chief Executive Christophe Bardet stated that Swinton had notified these problems to the Financial Services Authority in March 2012 and co-operated fully with the FCA. Swinton acknowledged its shortcomings in its sales practices during the specific period in question, and the company unreservedly apologised to customers.[32] After instigating a full review of the business after his appointment in December 2011, Bardet announced a comprehensive transformation of the business with a three-year, £75m investment programme.

In May 2014 Swinton Insurance was criticised by Welsh Language Commissioner [33] Meri Huws for prohibiting call centre staff from using Welsh when discussing details of financial products with Welsh speaking customers in Wales.[34]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Swinton Insurance Page on their formation and history
  2. ^ Swinton staff and Branch numbers
  3. ^ Swinton Insurance Product Offering from Bloomberg's Company Profile
  4. ^ Kenneth Scowcroft year of birth
  5. ^ Guardian article on Brian Scowcroft the son of Kenneth Scowcroft
  6. ^ Swinton History and cost of original insurance policy and amount sold
  7. ^ History of Swinton Insurance from The Guardian June 2004
  8. ^ MEN article on the history of Swinton Insurance
  9. ^ Link to information on Brian Scowcroft
  10. ^ The Guardian Interview with Brian Scowcroft
  11. ^ Swinton's sale to Sun Alliance headed by Brian Blake
  12. ^ Evening News confirmation of Swinton Sale figure
  13. ^ Acquisition of Swinton Insurance in 2001 by MMA
  14. ^ Swinton Insurance details of Safeguard acquisition
  15. ^ Manchester Evening News report on acquisition of Deansgate Insurance
  16. ^ Details of Swinton's growth by 2008
  17. ^ Details of Swinton acquiring Open + Direct Insurance
  18. ^ Swinton Insurance acquire Greys Insurance
  19. ^ Acquisition of Alexander James Insurance
  20. ^ Swinton Insurance Acquisition of Anderson Insurance Services
  21. ^ Acquisition of CH Turner in Cleethorpes
  22. ^ Insurance Age article on new CEO appointment at Swinton Insurance
  23. ^ Swinton insurance first UK insurance broker to advertise on TV
  24. ^ Man with big glasses TV advert on YouTube
  25. ^ Swinton Thunderbirds Commercial on YouTube
  26. ^ David Sisson Models page on the Thunderbirds TV Commercial for Swinton Insurance
  27. ^ Swinton Brains TV commercial on YouTube
  28. ^ YouTube link for TV advert featuring John Middleton
  29. ^ YouTube advert for Swinton featuring The Flintstones
  30. ^ "Final Notice (To Swinton Group Ltd)" (PDF). Financial Services Authority. 28 October 2009. Retrieved 2014-03-25. 
  31. ^ "FCA fines Swinton Group Limited £7.38 million for mis-selling monthly add-on insurance policies - Financial Conduct Authority". Financial Conduct Authority. 16 July 2013. Retrieved 2014-03-25. 
  32. ^ The Journal article on Swinton insurance fines and customer apology
  33. ^ Welsh Language Commissioner's findings
  34. ^ Swinton criticised by Welsh Speaking Commissioner

External links[edit]