The Business On... Henry Engelhardt, founder & chief executive, Admiral

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The Independent Online

Someone's knocked the Admiral's hat off!

Yes, Henry Engelhardt's car insurer, famed for its irritating ads and sharp underwriting, isn't looking so sharp now. Mr Engelhardt's interim statement is full of hyperbole about how well Admiral has done. Towards the end, however, it warns profits will be at the bottom end of City forecasts unless personal injury claims improve during the fourth quarter.

But Admiral's still making pots of money, right?

Oh yes, "a record profit" gushes Mr Engelhardt. Trouble is Admiral's been defying gravity for quite a while now. Yesterday's statement suggests that issues troubling its rivals have now caught up with Admiral, hence the shares' 26 per cent plunge.

Are his underwriters in for a hard time of it then?

Well, the Chicago-native and fitness freak founded the business. He's not going to be altogether pleased at it being knocked of its perch so we'd be surprised if he isn't cracking the whip in Admiral's offices in Cardiff and Swansea. The famed table football sets might be wanting for users for a while.

The writing's on the wall for those in the business, then?

Honestly, is that a reference to Mr Engelhardt's belief in graphology – the study of handwriting to reveal character? If so, shame on you. But Mr Engelhardt is going to have to get the company running very fast just to stand still. So he might have to start his work-outs at 5.30am rather than 6am.

But isn't work at Admiral supposed to be fun?

Sorry, sorry. Let's have a game of egg roulette, shall we? The one where out of a half dozen hard boiled eggs one of them's not, and you'll get it all over your face if you crack the wrong one. Apparently this was a special event at Admiral's offices on one occasion. But Mr Engelhardt will be having them chucked at him by investors if he doesn't sort the group's problems sharpish.

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