57 jobs axed in Ipswich

INSURANCE group Aviva is to axe up to 1,800 jobs over the next two years, with around 57 staff at its Ipswich office among those to be affected.

INSURANCE group Aviva is to axe up to 1,800 jobs over the next two years, with around 57 staff at its Ipswich office among those to be affected.

Norwich Union Insurance, Aviva's UK general insurance business, said the move was the latest stage in the introduction of a “new operating model” designed to improve service levels and drive growth.

The company plans to focus the operations side of its business, including claims handling and customer serive work, on seven “centres of excellence” based in Norwich, Perth, Bishopbriggs, Stretford, Manchester, Leicester and Southend.

Norwich Union said these centres had been selected as the “best equipped to meet our future business needs in terms of skills base and availability, accommodation, access, IT and infrastructure”.

The reorganisation will mean Norwich Union withdrawing operations staff from more than 20 centres including Ipswich, and other locations including Dundee, Glasgow, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool, Cheadle, Birmingham, Bristol, Southampton, Basildon, Exeter and Worthing.

“This will happen carefully over the next two years as NUI aims to minimise customer disruption and be as supportive as possible for its employees as they go through the transformation,” the company said.

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“The announcements today do not affect RAC Rescue Operations, and NUI will also continue to maintain its broker trading presence in 40 UK sites, keeping underwriters close to their brokers.

“In addition, many of the sites affected by these changes are also bases for people working for other parts of Norwich Union who are not affected by today's announcement, so the company will still have a presence in many of these places,” it added.

“In some areas specific buildings will close but some staff currently working in those buildings will be relocated in alternative premises.”

The Ipswich office, currently in Crown Street, is one of those which will be moving with today's announcement involving around 57 out of Norwich Union's total workforce in the town of 70. It is understood that the work being withdrawn from Ipswich main involves customer service work with broker clients.

Norwich Union said it would seek to offer staff affected at all the centres the option of redeployment within the organisation where possible.

Igal Mayer, chief executive of Norwich Union Insurance, said: “We are a very strong business that has grown over the years into a complex organisation.

“We want to deliver excellent, consistent and reliable customer service with market leading efficiency. To achieve this we will need to fundamentally simplify our business, consolidating our expertise into seven insurance centres of the future in the UK.

“This is a transformation that will take place over the next two years and will provide our employees with the products, processes and technology to give our customers and business partners excellent service, right the first time, every time.”

Mr Mayer added: “What we are announcing today represents significant operational change but I am convinced we are on the right course and that we have the best people working on delivering the right products and processes to service our customers and partners well.”

Norwich Union Insurance currently has offices in 52 towns and cities in the UK, 22 of which will be affected by the changes. In some cases specific buildings will close, with staff moving into smaller accommodation in the same towns and cities.