200 workers to lose their jobs at Willis in Ipswich

The Willis building in Ipswich.

The Willis building in Ipswich.

Around 200 people are to lose their jobs at the Ipswich office of global insurance broker and risk management group Willis.

The New York-based company announced in April that up to 350 jobs could be axed across its UK operations as part of an efficiency drive, which it has termed as an “Operational Improvement Program”.

Willis said the overall impact on numbers in Ipswich was expected to be positive, with some jobs being relocated to its office in Mumbai in India but others being transferred to the town from its UK headquarters in London.

A Willis spokesman in London said yesterday that the company could not comment on the current situation as collective consultations with staff potentially affected by the changes were still in progress.

However, it is understood that around 200 people currently employed by the group in the town are to lose their jobs over the course of this year and next.

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It is thought that numbers at the Ipswich office, which currently total around 1,200, are still likely to be slightly higher when the process is completed.

But, ominously perhaps, Willis said yesterday that it was lifting its targeted cost savings for 2015 from 60million US dollars (about £38.4m) to 80m dollars (£51.2m).

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The job losses come with Willis having just celebrated 40 years at its iconic Norman Foster-designed building in Ipswich, which was completed in 1975 and became Grade I-listed in 1991. The building was bathed in red light for several evenings last month – with 40 years representing a ruby anniversay – and the celebrations also included a party for staff.

The announcement of the new target for cost savings came in results for the second quarter of 2015 which showed that Willis generated reported net income of 70m dollars (£44.8m) in the three months to June 30, an increase of 46% on the same period a year earlier, while underlying net income was 21% ahead at 105m dollars (£67.2m).

“We are pleased with our underlying performance with underlying net income up 21% compared to last year,” said Willis chief executive Dominic Casserley.

“The progress of our Operational Improvement Program continues to exceed our expectations and additional savings have been identified.”

Loooking ahead, he added: “While the outlook for insurance rates across many segments of our business is not helpful, we are well positioned in the marketplace for continued growth.”

Willis currently employs around 4,000 people in the UK including 2,500 at its UK headquarters. Besides London and Ipswich, it also has 12 smaller offices around the country.

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