Underlying profit at the UK life, pensions and asset management provider Friends Provident slipped in H1 but sales remained robust.

First half underlying profit for the first six months declined by 9% to GBP247 million from GBP272 million a year ago. Earnings last year were bolstered by a number of one-off gains, the company said.

But sales growth remained healthy. Total life & pensions sales (assessed on a present value of new business premiums basis) were up 39% to GBP3.032 billion, from GBP2.185 billion.

At home, Friends Provident’s UK life & pensions new business profits were up 51% to GBP53 million. International life & pensions new business profits meanwhile grew by 57% to GBP36 million. Underlying earnings at the asset management arm of the business remained basically unchanged.

The group has excellent momentum underpinned by our leading scaleable technology platform and reputation for outstanding customer service. We had record new business profits last year and this year has started even more strongly as demonstrated by the excellent 53% increase in life and pensions new business profits, Keith Satchell, group chief executive, commented.