Less competition helped Just Retirement’s 20% boost in sales

Just Retirement has attributed its 20% boost in equity release sales to other providers pulling out of the sector.

Its six-month group sales rose by 11% year-on-year to £495m in the final six months of 2010, partially driven by a 20% increase in equity release sales.

For the six months to the end of 2010 equity release sales increased year-on-year to £116.5m.

Rodney Cook, chief executive officer of Just Retirement, says providers such as Prudential pulling out of the market in 2010 led to an increase in its business.

He says: “We believe in the equity release sector and are disappointed that the market hit the £800m mark in 2010.

“We have been on the receipt of increased demand but we would like to see the market reach the £1.3bn it once was, which will only be ach-ieved by new entrants.”

He adds: “We are securing add-itional distribution partnerships and have plans to bring further innovation to the market before the end of the year.

“This will help financial advisers and their clients, as well as assisting Just Retirement to extend its mar-ket position.”

Figures from Bridgewater Equity Release last week showed that most customers in 2010 used cash rel-eased from their home to either repay a mortgage, carry out home improvements or to consolidate other debts.

Some 43% of customers used equity release to repay a mortgage, with 31% doing home improve-ments, 27% consolidating debt, 19% on travelling and 12% buying or repairing a car.

Peter Welch, head of sales and distribution at Bridgewater Equity Release, says: “Many more individuals in or reaching retirement find themselves with far higher levels of indebtedness than they imagined.

“With the credit crunch and recession biting hard in recent times, the older population has found it increasingly difficult to find remortgage/debt finance be-cause of the stricter criteria placed on lending into retirement.”