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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 February, 2005, 13:57 GMT
'Avon calling' to sell insurance
Avon's website
Avon will still focus on cosmetics
Cosmetics firm Avon is recruiting 20,000 sales agents, who may help it sell financial services door to door.

As well as the usual lipgloss and perfume, consumers may be offered life and car insurance and credit cards.

The Financial Times reported that Avon was negotiating with potential partners for a marketing push in 2006.

However, an Avon spokeswoman later told BBC News that no negotiations had taken place but that it "may go down that route in future".

The firm, which made profits of 18.6m last year, plans to add to its 160,000 agents over the next five years.

Female market

Jerry McDonald, president of Avon UK, said that selling financial services to the firm's large number of female customers could prove profitable.

Women often enjoy lower life insurance and car insurance premiums than men, because they are safer behind the wheel and live longer, yet many financial service providers find it difficult to tap into this market.

However, Mr McDonald added the firm would remain primarily focused on supplying beauty products.

"Our competency is beauty, and that is where our strength will remain," Mr McDonald said.

Avon's move could buck a trend that has seen the number of people selling financial services door to door shrink dramatically.

In 1990, 200,000 people sold insurance door to door, today only a few thousand do.

Insurers and other financial services companies have found it cheaper to market by phone, or by direct mail and the internet.

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