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ABI quits ‘expensive’ Gresham Street headquarters amid structural overhaul

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The Association of British Insurers is to quit its expensive City offices and move to a cheaper headquarters in Tower Hill, London.

In December 2013 Money Marketing revealed the trade body was being “crippled” by high rents at its offices in Gresham Street.

The ABI agreed a fixed 25-year lease agreement in 1989, the market peak for City rents, to let 51-55 Gresham Street in London until 24 March 2016.

At the time the trade body believed it could make money from sub-letting parts of the 84,000 square foot building but City rents collapsed soon after the deal was agreed.

A source close to the organisation said rental costs were “crippling” the organisation.

The ABI has not disclosed how much it is paying for the new premises but says it will save money and put the ABI “at the heart of London’s insurance district”.

ABI chairman Paul Evans says: “The ABI modernisation programme will be helped by an opportunity to move out of the very expensive and rather musty premises in Gresham Street. I am delighted to announce today that in early 2016 the ABI will be moving to new offices in 1 America Square.

“This offers a modern office facility, with much improved facilities for all our members, big and small – at a substantially lower cost to members.”

The trade body has also unveiled a structural overhaul including a new associate membership offering.

An ABI spokeswoman says it is in the early stages of designing how this model will work.

She says: “There are relevant businesses which don’t currently qualify for full membership, such as comparison websites, white labellers and insurance defence lawyers, but which have interests closely aligned with our own.

“Associate membership will give these companies some very useful access to the work we do, and we are sure the insurance and long term savings sector as a whole will benefit from the increased level of cooperation across the sector.

“We’re open to shaping it to suit different businesses. It will include access to ABI data, expertise and insight.”

In addition, it has divided its long-term savings committee into two separate groups – one focusing on a forward-looking agenda, and one dealing with legacy issues.

Aviva UK and Ireland chief executive Andy Briggs has also been made deputy chairman of the organisation.

He says: “Our industry has a huge responsibility to ensure that we get the best outcomes for customers at a time of unprecedented regulatory change and the ABI, as the industry body, is central to this.  I am delighted to be taking on the role of deputy chair of the ABI and continuing to play an active role in addressing an increasingly busy industry agenda.”

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