Britannic sees sales halved

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Financial Correspondent

Britannic Assurance added to the gloom over falling sales of life and pensions products yesterday, warning its new single premium sales in the first half of the year had halved.

Britannic echoed the Prudential's comments the day before, saying that tough new disclosure requirements and lack of consumer confidence made this "a difficult period for writing new life and pensions business".

"The sales process has lengthened and this has impacted particularly severely on the large number of small policies sold to our customers for cash collection," Brian Shaw, Britannic's general manager, said.

"It is essential that confidence is regained in the personal pensions marketplace where sales are at a very subdued level and there is the risk that provision for retirement will remain inadequate for many people," he added.

Sales of single premium pensions collapsed from pounds 13.78m to pounds 4.22m for the first half of 1995. New business from unit-linked single premium assurance policies declined from pounds 13.67m to pounds 3.89m. Overall, Britannic's new annual premiums amounted to pounds 17.83m, about pounds 5m down on last time, and single premiums halved to pounds 22.49m.

Two days ago, the Pru said sales of regular premium investments fell by 72 per cent to pounds 18m in the same six months.

Mr Shaw said that a series of factors had affected the life and pensions sector this year, all of them negative. "There is a need for a customer 'feel-good' factor. People are worried about economic and political stability and job security. It's the same pressures that are on the housing market."