Insurance
2016: No.18 - £220m
2015: No.18 - £200m

Richard Harpin’s HomeServe, the Walsall-based home maintenance and insurance firm, reported a £20 million rise in revenue for the six months to September as it continued to build up its overseas business – in particular in the United States

The business reported revenue up from £241.7m to £262.3 million. Profits were slightly down at £21.3 million as the company invested in its global expansion. Customer numbers now stand at 6.6 million – a 12 per cent rise – with more than two-thirds of them outside the UK.

HomeServe is seeing its policy of targeting the US market paying off. Customer numbers are up 24 per cent with further growth forecast as HomeServe teams up with six new US partners serving 31 million households.

The company is returning surplus cash to its shareholders to the tune of £97 million, which means a dividend of around £12 million for Richard Harpin.

Profits took a hit in 2014, largely due to a £30.6 million fine handed out by the Financial Conduct Authority following a long running inquiry into mis-selling. It was the largest ever retail fine handed out by watchdog, after the FCA found that HomeServe had “serious, systemic and long-running failings.”

The group has been rebuilding since, and now reports a retention rate for customers of 83 per cent .

Richard Harpin sold five per cent of his stake in the company in 2010, reaping a reported £66 million. He is still a significant shareholder with a stake worth around £150 million. He remains chief executive at Homeserve.

With Homeserve, Richard Harpin has turned an emergency plumbing business backed by South Staffordshire Water into a multinational company. Aged 50, he graduated from the University of York and joined Procter & Gamble’s marketing department. He became a brand manager but left after three and half years to become a management consultant with Deloitte. He stayed there a year before setting up his own management consultancy.

It was when he saw how difficult it was to get a reliable plumber in an emergency that he formulated his business model; an insurance product which would ensure a fast and efficient plumbing emergency service.

After several let-downs, he managed to sell the idea to South Staffordshire Water who gave him £100,000 for 52 per cent of the company. In 1993 HomeServe was born, offering plumbing and drains insurance to water company customers.

Within two years HomeServe was turning in profits, and Richard Harpin successfully marketed the idea to other water companies, giving him total UK coverage. Having access to a large customer base through the water companies, he was able to offer other services. HomeServe now covers electrical wiring, pest control, home decorating, central heating boilers, and glazing.