TL Dallas has hired Tom Aldridge, the man who built up the Central Insurance Services operation in Scotland, as a director under plans to grow the commercial insurance firm on both sides of the Border.

Mr Aldridge, who left Central after its acquisition by insurance giant Marsh in January last year, declared his excitement at returning to a historic, family owned business.

In his new role he will be responsible for driving business in Scotland, where its founder began his career in commercial shipping insurance in Leith in 1919, as well as handling the group sales and marketing function.

TL Dallas is planning to open a new office in Edinburgh, where it is looking to expand its team,

this year, building on its sites in Glasgow, Polmont and Shetland.

It has a strong presence in Yorkshire, where its business was originally built on providing insurance to the textile industry, as well as offices based in Bradford and Whitworth, as well as offices which are in London, Stockport and Surrey.

Mr Aldridge, who spent nine and a half years with Aon before joining Central, said his departure from Marsh had not been inevitable after the buyout.

However, he said he was pleased to returning to a private firm where the focus is on sustainable growth, signalling that TL Dallas has a bright future under "managing director in waiting" - and descendent of founder Colonel Thomas Lessels Dallas - Polly Staveley.

Mr Aldridge, who joins a board with four other directors, said: "I think she has got the opportunity in inheriting the business at this stage to really do something with it. That to me was attractive, to be part of that and hopefully lead the business forward in Scotland and the UK."

He added: "From my background with Aon as a global company, I very much enjoyed being part of that.

"However, equally, having had the time I had at Central and understood and enjoyed the

independent spirit within the company, and just working for a smaller company, I almost surprised by myself [in] that I really wanted to get back to that way of working."

Asked to pinpoint some potential areas of growth, Mr Aldridge said the firm would continue to "play to our strength" of providing services for family-owned and private companies.

However, he also sees potential in delivering services to high net-worth individuals.

During four years at Central, Mr Aldridge built the office in Glasgow into a 17-strong operation, and helped to boost brokerage revenues by more than 90 per cent over that the period.

The company acquired Edinburgh firm Castle Cairn during that spell, which fell under his responsibility.

That time has been characterised by continuing consolidation in recent years, which Mr Aldridge said had not been checked by the global financial crash, noting that there has been a "small surge" in deals.

As well as the Central sale to Marsh, Bluefin Insurance took over Regional Insurance Brokers, which had 42 staff across five offices in Scotland, last year.

Giles Group was sold by Charterhouse to New York-based Arthur J Gallagher for £233m in 2013.

TL Dallas, which employs around 100 staff, has itself grown by steadily acquiring small family owned brokers, typically from owners approaching retirement.

Mr Aldridge said the company would be open to doing further deals if appropriate.

However, he suggested that the bigger prize was in taking advantage of the gaps which are left in the market as a result of consolidation.

Mr Aldridge said: "There's a great window for us to grow the business in terms of family companies as well as private companies and private clients."

He added: "Given the legacy of TL Dallas - it's been going since 1919 - it should have a stronger voice and an appreciation of what they do, particularly in Scotland and Yorkshire. From that perspective there is a huge opportunity."