Direct Line CEO to quit next year

Published in: Financial results, UK, People

Companies: Direct Line

Paul Geddes is to step down as chief executive of UK motor and home insurer Direct Line in the middle of next year, the company announced today.

Geddes will have been in the role for 10 years, during a period which saw the insurer separate from the Royal Bank of Scotland and float on the London Stock Exchange.  

He said: “I have been privileged to lead Direct Line. As I approach my tenth anniversary, it is right to put a successor in place to lead the company in the years ahead. In the meantime, we have a very busy and exciting agenda, which I look forward to delivering.”

Direct Line chairman Mike Biggs said the firm has “a well-developed succession process which we will now deploy with the objective of ensuring that we have an excellent successor in place by the time Paul leaves next year.”

The news came as Direct Line announced its first half results, in which gross written premiums dropped 5% compared to the first six months of 2017, to £1.61bn ($2.11bn), primarily due to distribution partnerships with Nationwide and Sainsburys ending. Sales of own-brand policies rose 3.3% year-on-year.

Pre-tax profits dropped 14% to £294m, driven by higher weather claims. Severe winter conditions in the UK led to weather-related claims of £75m in the first half, compared with £9m for the same period last year. The first half of 2017 also benefitted from £49m of reserve releases related to change in the Ogden rate.

Shares in Direct Line dropped 2% in early trading, priced at £3.359 at 0815 BST, compared with the previous day's close at £3.439.

Christopher Cundy