Just Group new business sales drop 55% in Q1
Just Group reported a drop in first-quarter new business sales on Thursday as retirement income fell and the pension provider said it was planning to shut its loss-making US operations.
In the three months to 31 March, new business sales were down 55% to £276m, with retirement income sales falling 59% from the first quarter of 2018 to £184m as defined benefit de-risking sales slumped 90% to £26m. The company said this was down to a temporary reduction in activity levels in its target segment.
However, Just Group said that so far in the second quarter it has completed a series of transactions with a value in excess of £300m and the run rate is returning to that of the second half of last year.
"The pipeline remains full and market pricing is attractive," it said.
Interim chief executive David Richardson said: "The continued growth in our markets gives us confidence that there remains a considerable opportunity to deploy capital in a disciplined and profitable manner. Although it was a quiet start to the year, DB transaction volumes in Q2 have been good. Given the strength of our pipeline, we remain comfortable that DB sales for the year will be similar to the annualised rate seen in H218."
Richardson said the group’s capital position was "much improved" by the £375m raised in March, and it is now focused on achieving capital neutrality by 2022. In order to achieve this target, Just Group will take a number of actions over the course of this year, including the closure of loss-making operations such as the US, reductions in new business LTM backing ratios and a shift towards more capital efficient assets.
At 0815 BST, the shares were down 7.4% to 60.10p.