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How IDEX enabled £56.7m business Clear Group boost revenue and growth

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With climate change destabilising once-reliable areas, to global conflicts, the last few years have been challenging for the insurance industry. In spite of this, M&A activity in the specialism continues to be the next step for many businesses. Deloitte report that “demand in the broker segment remains consistent year-on-year” (Deloitte: 2023 insurance M&A outlook: balancing uncertainty with optimism) with Clyde & Co partner Eva-Maria Barbosa agreeing: “In the face of stark economic pressures – inflation, rising energy costs, and looming recession – insurers remain focused on growth opportunities” (Insurance business: 2022 Insurance M&A hits highest growth rate in 10 years).

Having acquired businesses in the last few years, Heath Crawford & Foster (HCF), insurance brokerage, approached IDEX with further expansion in mind. Founded by Paul Weinberg in 1982, HCF spans Heath Crawford & Foster Ltd, ABA Insurance, and Merenda & Co Ltd. Within the last three years the company’s stature has doubled, standing at an impressive £18 million in gross written premium. Meanwhile, UK based chartered insurance broker Clear Group were on a similar growth trajectory and were looking for partners to support them with their growth objectives.

The deal saw Paul Weinberg and his fellow directors bringing a 34-strong team to Clear Group. Providing commercial insurance and employee benefits solutions to a range of sectors including household, motor, fleet as well as after the event insurance, the business was ready for their next step. Below, we detail our approach to facilitating the exciting yet formidable partnership of two key insurance players.

Our approach

Foremost, our main objective was to work with HCF and Clear Group to establish their needs, understand their vision, and factor-in their long-term goals. We spent a considerable amount of time with both companies to better understand their ethos and values. Once established, the work of carving the best deal for both companies could begin.

 As M&A specialists, we understand that a successful deal is built on more than attractive figures for those businesses involved. IDEX works diligently to preserve the ethos, cultural values and long-term ambitions of whoever we work with, while also ensuring they’re equipped with the capital to drive their brand into an exciting future” comments Colin McKenna, Client Solutions Director at IDEX Consulting.

Working closely with both businesses was a priority for us. The deal involved multiple parties, considerable capital, and complex financial and legal requirements, therefore ensuring all parties were engaged and worked well together was key. Since our solution is based on pairing businesses whose values and cultures are compatible - as opposed to blindly following favorable numbers - the transition was ultimately a seamless one.

Why they chose to work with us

Between them, our consultants have 80 years of knowledge and experience, and this has been paramount when inevitably high risk decisions have to be made. Our in-depth knowledge of the market, established network of over 1,800 UK brokers and track record of success, means companies who work with us are left with no doubt about the advice they’re given or the decisions they make.

IDEX continue to demonstrate their skill in sourcing and introducing high quality broking businesses that are aligned strategically and culturally with Clear. Buyers and sellers interests are fully understood and well managed throughout the process, leading to very successful outcomes for all parties” says Paul Beck, M&A Director, Clear Insurance Management.

Furthermore, our tenure in the market has resulted in enhanced credibility; we’re honored to hold a solid reputation with the completion of 12 complex transactions this year for some of the UK’s leading insurers. Our commitment to building longstanding relationships means the process of matching companies results in a likeminded symbiosis. Using our wealth of expertise allows us to get under the skin of the business, understanding what the seller is looking for and paving a way to achieve whatever goals they set out to meet.

The partnership of HCF and Clear Group is testament to this.

Paul Weinberg acknowledges: “I’ve followed the Clear journey for many years and have always been impressed by its people and the way they do business. Joining forces with Clear now is absolutely the right thing for the growth and future of the Heath Crawford Foster business” with reports agreeing, “This latest acquisition aligns seamlessly with Clear Group’s ongoing commitment to building a robust and sustainable business platform” (Reinsurance News: Clear group expands its reach with acquisition of Heath Crawford & Foster holdings ltd).

The results

Heath Crawford & Foster has doubled in size. In 2022 Director Paul Weinberg told Insurance Age that the plan was to double again by 2027, and partnering with Clear Group has certainly facilitated this goal. With offices in Watford, Manchester and Southend, the merge has enabled HCF to enter new market locations, establishing their brand and presence across the UK. To add to a growing presence, HCF have developed their proposition and reputation and are quickly becoming thought leaders in their field.

For advice on selling, or finding the right partner to take your business to the next level, contact Colin McKenna, Client Solutions Director at IDEX Consulting.



Deloitte: 2023 insurance M&A outlook: balancing uncertainty with optimism

Insurance business: 2022 Insurance M&A hits highest growth rate in 10 years

Reinsurance News: Clear group expands its reach with acquisition of Heath Crawford & Foster holdings ltd