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Gloucestershire Business News

Ecclesiastical 'resilient' despite £60m loss

Ecclesiastical Insurance said the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on long-term investments were to blame for a pre-tax loss of almost £60million.

But group chief executive Mark Hews said the market was showing signs of recovery while charitable donations have continued to grow.

The Gloucester-based insurance group reported a pre-tax loss of £59.7million for the first half of the year - compared to a profit of £42.8million the previous year - as investments showed a loss of £48.9million.

Underwriting losses of £1.3million include £14million for the provision of COVID-19 related claims.

Mr Hews said: "While our headline loss before tax is disappointing, in the main it has been driven by unrealised fair value losses on our investment portfolio.

"These are investments that are being held for the long term and on which we have already seen some recovery.

"We continue to take a long-term view beyond the current pandemic."

He continued: "Our underlying performance is resilient and we are starting to see activity returning to normal levels.

"We are proud of the way that our colleagues rose to the challenge and continued to serve our customers throughout this difficult period while themselves adapting to new ways of working."

In March, Ecclesiastical announced a record £32million donated to charity over the previous year and has continued to provide support for those in need throughout the pandemic.

The Movement for Goods awards saw £500,000 distributed with the £200,000 in donations to coronavirus response appeals.

It takes the total donated since 2016 to more than £97million - just short of its enhanced target of more than £100million by September 2021.

"We also continue to invest in the future of our business," said Mr Hews. "Our new head office building was completed at the end of June and fit out work is now underway.

"We are expecting to move into the new building during the first quarter of next year.

"We are also continuing to invest in new systems to improve our efficiency and improve the customer experience."

The group's investment management business EdenTree reported new new external money of £57.8million while the broking and advisory businesses contributed £1.4million profit in the first half of the year.

June income levels returned to 2019 levels.

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