THE boss behind a Huntingdon insurance broker, which has grown from a four-man operation to one employing more than 400 members of staff, says he still sees the business as ‘one big family’.

Mark Coverdale, chairman of Coversure Insurance Services, started the business 25 years ago from an office in Ermine Street with three members of staff.

Three years later the company issued its first franchise licence to Jeff Robins of Coversure Buckingham. Mr Robins now runs the Milton Keynes office and is the longest-serving franchise-holder.

Today there are more than 90 franchises across the country, and the company, which has its headquarters in Huntingdon's Vantage Business Park, boasts a £110million annual turnover.

But the 'family feel' is still prevalent, says Mr Coverdale. His wife Jan Utting and three sons work for the business - youngest son Joe Coverdale runs the Chelmsford franchise.

In October, to celebrate 25 years since the company began, Mr Coverdale took staff to the Bongo Raj in Ermine Street, a regular place to eat for Coversure staff in the early years.

Mr Coverdale said: "The last 25 years have been quite a journey. Huntingdon has been a good home for Coversure. We now employ over 60 local people at our head office and look after insurances for many local residents and businesses."

The second franchise-holder was John Hooper, who opened Coversure Worcester Park. Now the group managing director, Mr Hooper has been instrumental in building Coversure to the business it is today.

His wife, Ann and her daughter still run the original Worcester Park franchise.

Mr Hooper said: "I joined Coversure because it had a clear strategic direction and aspirations to become a large company.

"Twenty-five years on, we have grown the business to a £110m brokerage, which has given us a significant voice in the insurance market.

"Our ability to adapt to changes in the market has meant we have remained in a strong position. We continue to recruit new members of staff to service our growth - a majority of whom are local residents to the Huntingdon area."

The company celebrated its 25th anniversary by launching a silver anniversary stamp at the beginning of the year.

On October 15, an anniversary AGM and conference was held 25 years and 12 days after Mr Coverdale opened the first Coversure office in Ermine Street.

Over 400 delegates descended on the Leicester Marriott Hotel for the AGM and conference. The day concluded with a gala dinner, which was run on a cowboy and Indian theme.