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Friends keeps on growing with 14% rise

Friends Provident has bucked the industry trend with a 14 per cent boost to make 2003 its best-ever year for new business.

Sales rose from £376.7m in 2002 to £429.2m in 2003 on an annual premium equivalent basis. Life and pension business in the fourth quarter of last year was up by 13 per cent from £103.1m to £116.7m.

Protection business leapt by 54 per cent to £69.4m from £45.1m. Savings and investment sales increased by 18 per cent to £114.3m from £97m and new group pension business was up by 12 per cent to £176.1m from £157.8m.

The company describes the increase as a “testament” to its systems and service and is optimistic about the coming year, saying investment confidence is better and less fragmented.

Group chief executive Keith Satchell says: “This has been an excellent performance. During two of the most difficult years in recent times for the industry, we have achieved double-digit new business growth in each year.”

Commerzbank insurance analyst Roman Cizdyn says: “It is a simple company with a simple story. They wanted to grow and they have done it.”

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