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Admiral staff to get £10.5m of shares

Brian the Robot took star billing in car insurer Admiral's results today after ad land's latest creation helped drive a jump in Confused.com's profits.

The car insurance group said its price comparison site, which was set up more than a decade ago, grew profits by 19% last year to £21.7 million on the back of the successful TV advertising campaign featuring the robot.

In a fiercely competitive market in which rivals upped their advertising spend, Admiral said Confused maintained its market share in the year.

Across the group, which insures around 3.7 million vehicles, Admiral said profits rose 7% to £370 million during a "solid but not flashy year".

Turnover fell 8% to £2.03 billion as Admiral opted not to chase the market lower following a two-year period in which industry rates have fallen 25%.

Chief executive Henry Engelhardt said: "We made more money than ever before, we grew customer numbers a little bit, we launched one new overseas business, but there was no growth surge, there were no claims shocks; we just went about our business."

The performance means 7,000 staff at Cardiff-based group will divide up £10.5 million of shares through an employee share scheme. The current maximum award for each year is £3,000 per employee.

Admiral's combined ratio was below 90%, with a figure above 100% meaning a company is paying out more money in claims than it is receiving.

Mr Engelhardt added: "If the UK market doesn't turn soon, some people might say it will hurt Admiral. That might be true. But it will hurt our competitors earlier and harder, as they are largely unable to match our combined ratio. A slower turn will only mean a sharper turn when the turn turns."

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