An established start-up” is how chief executive Alex Labak likes to modestly describe this household goods warranty specialist — a market leader in Britain with sights on international expansion.
Domestic & General had an unlikely start, insuring sheep and cattle in the Australian outback more than a century ago. It relocated to Britain in 1914 and now protects 22m household appliances for 16m customers in 12 countries.
The company partners retailers and manufacturers, including Indesit, Argos, AO.com and Sky, to sell repair and protect plans: it insures Sky’s set-top boxes, for example. Revenue to March 2014 grew 10% to £633m, driven by growth overseas, generating profits of £74m, before £16m of exceptional amortisation costs.
Its potential has attracted interest from private equity firms. Advent International took the group off the London stock market for £524m in 2007. In August last year, CVC Capital Partners bought the company from Advent for a reported £750m, including debt. CVC plans to help the company expand further overseas, where sales already account for 20% of revenue.
Labak, 52, took over in April after holding senior positions at MasterCard and Home Credit, where he was chairman and chief executive. He has been joined by chief financial officer (CFO) Andy Crossley, 58, formerly deputy chief executive and CFO of Prudential UK & Europe.
Changes at the top do not signify a radical new direction, said Labak: “Historically the focus has been on the UK and now we’re putting emphasis on building programmes in similar markets elsewhere.” Nor is moving into new product areas part of the plan: “We’re a niche player . . . a one-trick pony, really.” A trick Domestic & General is clearly performing to great effect.
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