£20m fundraising helps group to invest in upgraded IT system

CREDIT card protection firm CPP is looking to expand its mobile phone cover as more people use their smart phones to shop online.

CPP's Craig Parsons

The York-based firm, which has announced a return to underlying profit in 2014 after a difficult few years, is looking at ways to protect customers when their mobile is lost or stolen.

Eric Anstee, the company’s executive chairman, said: “The future is digital. This business was founded on insurance on wallets and keys.

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“Now we’re in a digital age. The wallet is moving onto a mobile phone. Increasingly people are worried about identity protection on the internet. Equally more and more financial transactions are being done over the mobile.”

The idea is that CPP will provide similar protection if people lose their mobile as when their lose their wallet, but Mr Anstee said expansion is some 12 months down the line as first of all the group needs to ensure its digital platform is fully up to speed.

He was speaking as the group reported ​an underlying operating profit of £​500,000 in 2014​, up from a £1.8m loss in 2013.

The group said the worst is now behind it following a tumultuous period during which it was fined £10.5m by the Financial Conduct Authorit​y​ for mis-selling insurance products.​

It said the completion of ​a​ £20​m fundraising and debt restructure in February has strengthened the capital position of the ​g​roup and boosted confidence.

“The company has been through a lot of trauma, but my impression is people are delighted we’ve been successful in raising finance and we’re well supported by our bank, Barclays,” said Mr Anstee.

Chief financial officer Craig Parsons added: “We hope we are now back into a profit position - we’re back to a growth agenda.

“We are happy with our international footprint. It’s surprising to find a company that has been so successful internationally, particularly in India and also in Continental Europe, particularly Spain.”

The company said it still faces challenges and risks ​with ​its strategic plans and further action is required before the business ​“​achieves its full potential​”​.​ ​

“We’ve stabilised the business financially and we are now making sure people are properly incentivised and managed. Now we need to get people behind the growth agenda,” said Mr Anstee.

CPP is searching for a new CEO following the recent departure of Brent Escott, who helped the group improve its performance after a troubled period.

After he arrived in 2013, Mr Escott worked with the regulators, banks and card providers to complete a redress scheme for customers.

Mr Anstee said: “We will look internally as well as externally. The search company we are working with said there is a lot of interest in CPP.

“We are encouraging external candidates and the search is also open to internal candidates.”

Mr Anstee, who has taken on an executive role at CPP while the search is on, ruled himself out of the running.

“I’m 64. I have a plural career. If I was 10 years younger, I’d have jumped at it,” he said.

Mr Parsons refused to be drawn on his chances at the top job.

“This is a positive set of results,” he said. “It’s the first positive results for some time and follows the work we did with the equity injection and the restoration of the balance sheet.”

The group said revenue fell from £178m to £109m in the year to December 31.

The loss for the year from continuing and discontinued operations fell from £33m to £7m.

Around 400 of CPP’s 900 staff are based in York.

Following the latest fundraising, Hamish Ogston, the company’s founder, owns 43 per cent of the business, while Phoenix Asset Management Partners has a 40 per cent stake.

CREDIT Card protection firm CPP is investing in a new IT system to help it develop more digital products following a £20m fundraising.

York-based CPP, which was admitted to AIM earlier this year, has chosen Halifax-based SSP to provide a single platform IT system across the 13 countries it operates in.

The new​ ​system will support the group’s focus on digital technology, while ensuring the business operates more efficiently, CPP said.

Charles Crawford, chief operating officer at CPP, told The Yorkshire Post: “It’s about having the right IT system to take the business forward.

“We did want to partner with somebody in the UK, and ideally with somebody in shouting distance of York.”