The insurer says the acquisition is part of a strategy to become a one-stop shop for motorists. It will now be able to sell cars via the Oneswoop and norwichunioncars.com brands, as well as provide motor insurance, breakdown cover and finance cover. Bricks and mortar sites have not been ruled out, as the insurer sets its sights on becoming a sizeable player in the market.
“We will see what customers want and respond accordingly. At this moment in time our attitude is never say never,” says Jill Willis, marketing manager for Norwich Union Cars. “We're developing a more holistic approach to the customer and improving the range of products and services on offer.
“As a company the diversification makes perfect sense – we estimate the total spend on motoring in the UK is £63bn a year and insurance costs make up just 12% of that total.”
Norwich Union already sells and leases cars via norwichunioncars. com and it will continue to operate this business alongside Oneswoop.
Both sites will run in tandem to attract different customers. “By purchasing Oneswoop's business, we are moving closer to both the customer and the car dealer,” says Willis. There are currently no plans to rebrand Oneswoop as Norwich Union, although there are already links to NU's insurance and breakdown cover sites.
Oneswoop was launched in February 2000 to offer UK new car buyers access to cheaper vehicles from mainland Europe. It was joined in the market by several sites aiming to provide a similar service, including the Consumers Association's now obsolete carbusters.com – which merged with Oneswoop in 2001.
The company now sources cars from UK-based dealer suppliers and is based in west London.