business

Rich List 2017: No.18 - Richard Harpin

HomeServe founder has seen his wealth increase by £70 million while his Rich List ranking remains the same

Richard Harpin

Insurance
2017: No.18 - £290m
2016: No.18 - £220m

Richard Harpin is the founder of HomeServe, the Walsall-based home maintenance and insurance firm.

The firm is busy building up its overseas business – in particular the United States.

In July 2016 HomeServe completed its largest ever takeover - the £52 million acquisition of US utilities business USP, based in Pennsylvania.

The group is seeing its policy of targeting the US market paying off.

In 2015 the group announced a £5 million investment in its US operation and has reported strong growth in customer numbers which have increased by more than 20 per cent following the signing up of six utility partners, including an agreement with AARP, one of the largest membership organisations in the US.

The group's US profits exceed £12 million.

In the year to March 31, 2016 HomeServe reported revenue at £633.2m, eight per cent up on the previous year.

Pre-tax profits were up at £82.6 million. The group has a market value of £1.7 billion.

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HomeServe, which employs 1,200 people at its Green Lane headquarters, was named the UK's Best Employer in the business services and supplies sector in a survey backed by business information provider Bloomberg.

It was also named the UK's best home energy cover provider by finance information web site Moneynet.

Profits took a hit in 2015 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.”

Despite selling five per cent of his stake in the company in 2010, reaping a reported £66 million, Richard Harpin is still a significant shareholder with a stake worth around £140 million.

He is chief executive at HomeServe and commutes by helicopter from his home near Harrogate, getting up at 5am to make sure he gets a swimming session in before starting work.

Birmingham Post Rich List 2016: No.18 - Richard Harpin

With HomeServe, Richard Harpin has turned an emergency plumbing business backed by South Staffordshire Water into a multinational company.

Aged 52, 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.

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