- Just Group said merger cost savings have exceeded the £45m revised target run rate and remain a key element of delivering a better return on equity across the business.

The group said total retirement sales for the nine months to the end of September were 1% lower than the pro forma nine month comparative figure as it continued to focus on profit growth.

Statutory basis total sales rose 3% from £1,583m in 2016 to £1,631m this time.

Guaranteed income for life (GIfL)sales were broadly flat, but with sales continuing to benefit from individual customers transferring from defined benefit pensions to a drawdown and GIfL mix.

Defined benefit de-risking sales of £564m in 9M 17 were broadly in line with pro forma 9M 16.

Lifetime mortgage (LTM) advances of £367m amounted to 30% of retirement income sales, as it continued to optimise matching.

Group chief executive Rodney Cook said: 'Our focus on margin rather than volume continues to deliver profit growth.

'This disciplined pricing approach and further progress in achieving cost synergies mean margins and IRRs4 continue to improve.

'The group's return on equity will benefit as a result, and we remain on track to deliver a sustainable capital model.

'Our successful focus on sustainable growth in attractive markets gives us increasing confidence of delivering on full year expectations.'

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