Roger Lark & Sons was established as a Lloyd’s broker in 1948. From its humble beginnings as a small family business, it has grown over the decades to become one of the UK’s most respected independent brokers.
Lark’s rich history is regaled here by present-day Chairman, Graham Lark – Grandson of the founder, Roger Lark.
"When my Grandfather initially founded the company, the majority of the business came from sub-agents across the UK who needed a Lloyd’s broker to act as their placing broker.
"The first office was in Marland House, Mark Lane, London, which was chosen for its proximity to Lloyd’s. After 12 years, the business had grown significantly we simply needed more space, so the company moved to Ibex House, Minories.
"The business continued to succeed and in 1964, after 16 years at the helm, my Grandfather retired as an active partner. The minutes of that historic meeting remain in the Lark files to this day."
"It was stated by Mr Roger Lark that he intended to retire on the 31 March 1964. Mr John Lark and Mr Robert Lark agreed that special mention should be recorded in the minutes of the great service Mr Roger Lark, the founder member of the firm, had given to the business since its foundation in 1948. He had seen immense expansion in the business whilst at its head and this growth was in no small way due to his personal efforts. He will continue to attend the office in the capacity of Consultant, and his two sons, the continuing partners, will be very happy to have him at their sides.”
Leaving The City
"In 1967, the company recognised the benefits of leaving the City and moving to offices in Barking, Essex. This means that Roger Lark & Sons became one of the first Lloyd’s brokers to be based outside of London.
"It was an ideal location, not only did it have direct access to the City (which was only 15 minutes away by train) but it was also an emerging business area. The lower rental costs allowed us to have more floor space, thus enabling our continued growth.
"The following year, my grandfather fully retired and the company embarked on a highly successful association with Sedgwick Group. The agreement was that Roger Lark & Sons would take on Sedgwick’s small personal business - which was seen as a stepping stone to growing the relationship.
"In the years that followed, our association with Sedgwick saw several mergers and acquisitions as we continued to thrive. So much so, that in 1986 the company had to move premises again – this time to just across the road to Wigham House, where the firm can still be found today.
"In 1990, our 23-year association with Sedgwick was officially recognised and the company changed its name to Roger Lark & Sedgwick."
A new chapter
"The following years saw the company boost its revenue following the acquisitions of Griffiths & Drew and Davies & Thompson Ltd, both based in Maidstone, Kent. It was decided to keep an office in the area to continue to service the growing number of clients we had in the area.
"In 1998, Sedgwick announced plans to merge with Marsh & McLennan. So, in 1999, the company changed its name to Lark Insurance Broking Group and became a Limited company.
"The company aimed to increase its presence in the South East and the first phase of this plan was to acquire the insurance broking business of Investec Bank. By keeping the staff and offices, Lark once again had a base in the City of London. Following a restructuring, the Barking based Corporate Client division moved to the City and returned to Ibex House after an absence of 40 years."
"In 2005/06, we continued to grow the business by acquiring four businesses - Tolson Messenger, Argent Insurance Brokers, Ascot Insurance Brokers Ltd and Somerville Insurance Services. By retaining the staff and premises from each business, Lark greatly expanded its presence in the South East.
"Between 2007 and 2012, the company received investment from Groupama, a French-based Insurance Company Groupama, who became the majority shareholder in the company. However, having suffered from the Southern European Government Debt crisis, they announced their plans to withdraw from all of their UK based businesses. In August 2012, the Lark Group management team completed a buy-out of the Groupama shareholding.
"Even during that period, Lark continued to grow – acquiring Griffiths Good & Company Limited and Grosvenor Court Insurance Services (both in 2008) and Cadogan Hanover Park (in 2011). The Aquisition of Cadogan Hanover Park brought Performance Film & Media, SAIFInsure and Truckinsure into the group and helped to boost our areas of expertise.
A Fresh Look
"In 2012, we changed names again and became Lark (Group) Limited. We also used this opportunity to refresh the brand in order to better convey our values and mantra, to enhance our heritage and to reinforce the individual service we offer to our all customers.
Where We Are Today
"Although the company maintains its plans to always look for growth opportunities, we are still very much a family business. Two members of the Lark family (including myself) are still on the Board of Directors. We also still have a strong belief in staff loyalty and that is why we are proud that over 135 of our 333 employees have been employed at Lark for over 10 years.
"Today, the Group deals with general insurance for both private and corporate clients, and Lark Employee Benefits, which handles the financial services side of the business.
"With all the acquisitions and mergers, we’ve come a long way since my Grandfather started things off in 1948. But we’ve never lost sight of what’s important. Our customers, and the service we provide them with."
Roger Lark and Sons was established as a Lloyd’s broker.
The company moved to Ibex House in the Minories.
The company embarked on a successful association with Sedgwick.
Roger Lark Life & Pensions Ltd was established, later to be renamed as Lark Employee Benefits.
The company changed its name to Roger Lark & Sedgwick.
As Sedgwick announced plans to merge with Marsh the company once again changed its name, to Lark Insurance Broking Group, and became a Limited company.
Roger Lark’s grandsons, Graham and Stephen, become Chairman and Managing Director respectively.
2002 - 2014
The company made acquisitions of 12 regional UK brokers and expanded to encompass 7 office locations across the South East.
Lark rebranded to become Lark (Group) Limited.
Lark acquired Bury St Edmunds based insurance broker Insurance Risk Solutions.
Insurance Risk Solutions rebranded and became part of Lark (Group) Limited.