Local jobs threat at insurance giant

NORWICH Union insurance group Aviva is to axe between 1,500 and 1,800 jobs over the next two years in a further shake-up of its general insurance operations - with around 57 staff at its Ipswich office among those to be affected.

NORWICH Union insurance group Aviva is to axe between 1,500 and 1,800 jobs over the next two years in a further shake-up of its general insurance operations - with around 57 staff at its Ipswich office among those to be affected.

Aviva plans to focus the operations side of the Norwich Union Insurance (NUI) business - which includes customer service, sales, claims and back office administration - on seven “centres of excellence”, which will include Norwich and Southend.

However, the reorganisation will see the withdrawal of operations staff from 22 other centres around the country, including Ipswich and Basildon.

“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,” said the company in a statement yesterday.


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Aviva said yesterday that the changes represented the latest stage in its introduction of a “new operating model” designed to improve service levels and drive growth.

The seven centres of excellence had been selected as being the “best equipped to meet our future business needs in terms of skills base and availability, accommodation, access, IT and infrastructure”.

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It added: “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.

“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 as a result of yesterday's announcement with 57 jobs, mainly involving customer service work with broker clients, being axed by the end of 2009 out of a total current workforce in the town of around 70.

In contrast, the company said the reorganisation would see a “modest” increase in jobs in Norwich by 2010 - a boost for the city following the group's announcement last month that the historic Norwich Union brand is to be phased out over the next two years and be replaced by the Aviva identity.

Aviva said it would seek to support staff affected at all the centres affected by yesterday's announcement, including where possible the option of redeployment within the organisation.

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.”

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