Just hits cost saving target year early

Just hits cost saving target year early

Just Group, born from the merger of annuity providers Just Retirement and Partnership, has reported it has reached the cost savings target it had for the deal.

The two companies completed the £1.4bn merger, first announced in the summer 2015, last April, in a bid to shore up the businesses against pension freedoms, which saw demand for their annuity products fall.

Today (18 July), Just reported that it has reached its original £40m cost savings target from the deal, more than a year ahead of plan.

It will now strive to exceed the updated target of £45m in savings.

Total new business sales were up 3 per cent to £975m at the company for the six months to the end of June, compared to the same period in 2016 and on a pro forma basis excluding any unusual and nonrecurring transactions.

On the same basis, annuity sales - now reported as "guaranteed income for life" - were down 2 per cent at £390m.

The company stated, however, that sales of the product had improved by 24 per cent on the first quarter results.

Just also reported a 80 per cent increase in defined benefit de-risking sales compare with the previous period, at £296m.

Rodney Cook, group chief executive, said: "These figures show the continuing benefits of the merger.

"We have continued to grow, helped by our vibrant new brand, whilst maintaining our focus on careful risk selection. 

Commenting on the group’s prospects, Mr Cook said: “Our focus remains on improving shareholder profits and returns, not on volume growth for its own sake.

"We will continue to take advantage of market growth by refining our risk selection and asset, liability management. 

“Together with our progress on costs... [first half year 2017] margins are expected to have exceeded 7 per cent.

"We remain comfortable with full year expectations, albeit with more moderate volume growth and higher margins than previously expected.”