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JRP sees double digit drop in sales

JRP sees double digit drop in sales

Just Retirement Group (JRP) has recorded an 11 per cent drop in sales across all its retirement products in 2016, with the firm's bulk annuity business taking a particularly heavy hit.

The business, which last month rebranded as "Just" following the takeover of Partnership in April, also saw equity release and protection sales fall.

However, it reported a modest increase in retail annuity sales, as well as a 5 per cent growth in care plan sales, and a 22 per cent increase in drawdown sales. 

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The figures were "pro forma", meaning they were adjusted as if the takeover of Partnership had taken place on 1 January 2015.

JRP revealed it had sold £973m bulk annuity policies in 2016, down from £1.233bn  in 2015.

That was a 24 per cent fall.

The firm said this fall was "fully expected", and put it down to "exceptionally high sales" of bulk annuities in the second half of 2015, ahead of the introduction of Solvency II. 

The business pointed out that 2016 sales were 37 per cent above 2014 sales.

JRP chief executive Rodney Cook said the firm's DB pipeline "continues to grow", adding: "We are progressing transactions at all stages of the sales process with a number of major employee benefit consultants."

JRP's annuity business - which it calls its "guaranteed income for life" business - increased by 2 per cent, from £763m worth policies in 2015 to £778m in 2016.

The firm read this as evidence the annuity market had "stabilised" following the upheaval of pension freedoms.

It also saw a 22 per cent increase in its drawdown business, from £21m to £25m.

In its equity release business, sales of lifetime mortgages fell by 6 per cent, from £598m to £559m.

The firm stated that cost savings as a result of the takeover stood at £30m per annum, against a target of £45m by the end 2018.

This, the firm stated, was well ahead of schedule, and would contribute to profit margins in 2017.

JRP also stated that, while it has presented the Just Retirment-Partnership transaction as a merger, for accountancy purposes it must be treated as a takeover by Just Retirement.

Mr Cook said: "The transformation of our business since the merger is more than delivering the expected benefits. We have adapted the business rapidly in 2016 to the new regulatory environment.

"This will continue into 2017, with our primary focus on growing earnings by using our combined IP for better risk selection and by driving down costs."

He went on: "We took full advantage of favourable economic conditions in the first nine months of the year for lifetime mortgages and then intentionally managed back sales in the final quarter."

james.fernyhough@ft.com