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Saga pushed up its dividend by almost a fifth on Wednesday, despite falling profits in some of its major businesses.

The company, which sells insurance and travel services to older people, increased its pre-tax profits by 6 per cent thanks to a strong performance from the motor insurance broking business.

But profits from insurance underwriting fell, as did profits from other parts of the broking business. Profits from travel, which contributes much less to the group than insurance, increased by a tenth.

Saga said that it would be launching a membership programme later this year, and that in future it would refer to its customers as “members”.

Chief executive Lance Batchelor said:

For the third successive year since IPO, we have delivered a strong set of financial results. Underlying profit before tax is up 5.6 per cent, consistent with our ongoing objective of delivering consistent, sustainable profit growth.

Debt is down sharply, and I am very pleased that the dividend has again materially increased. Our performance has continued to prove the strength of the Saga business model, which builds multi-decade relationships with our target demographic through a range of excellent products and services.

This breadth allows us to deliver consistently for our shareholders, despite the ebbs, flows and challenges in the insurance and travel markets.

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