Insurance firm creates almost 200 jobs in two years

A FAST-GROWING Newcastle insurance group has built up a staff of 160 and customer base of 250,000 in 18 months and is to expand more.

A FAST-GROWING Newcastle insurance group has built up a staff of 160 and customer base of 250,000 in 18 months and is to expand more.

Eldon Insurance Services, which started with seven staff, expects revenues will top £4m this year and to take on another 20 staff as its work goes nationwide.

Managing director Michael Lee, a former Longbenton Community College pupil, said he could have set the business anywhere in the UK but opted for Newcastle after two large insurance groups, Zurich and Norwich Union, shut their offices in the city in 2007 with the loss of 700 jobs.

“It has been very rewarding to be able to put something back into the local community which had given me so much,” he said.

“When we looked around, Newcastle seemed an obvious choice to locate the new operation as there was already a pool of talented individuals with the desired skill set and an excellent infrastructure within the city.

“I was able to pick up a good starting team from the experienced staff who were made redundant when Zurich closed its Newcastle offices. This helped get the business off to a flying start and there is still a large pool of experienced staff with those made redundant by the Norwich Union. And some of the IT team have joined us from the Northern Rock, where their future was uncertain.

“We have grown very quickly in the first 15 months. I expect to take on 20 more staff this year and we will continue to grow after that.”

Mr Lee, who has years of experience in insurance, co-founded Southern Rock Holdings in Gibraltar in 2004. This owns Southern Rock Insurance (SRICL) and Eldon. Eldon provides policy administration and claims handling to insurance firms, its main customer being SRICL. Other customers include Aviva (formally Norwich Union) and Asda Insurance, and it sees growth coming from more back office contracts with insurance companies.

Eldon has spread from first to second floor at Cale Cross House on Pilgrim Street, Newcastle. Head of claims Barbara McAloon worked for Zurich and Norwich Union in Newcastle.

In March 2007 Zurich closed its 500-job office in Fenkle Street and the next month Norwich Union said it was making 200 redundant at Bamburgh House call centre in Newcastle. Eldon and Southern Rock are associated firms of Bristol’s Brightside plc .

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