Insurer unveils extent of cutback

Perth to remain key to Aviva as hundreds of jobs axed across UK

Mark Wilson AvivaAviva, Britain’s biggest insurer, is to close three of its offices by the end of next year following its takeover of Friends Life.

Operations in Salford, Salisbury and Stretford will shut, while it will reduce staffing in Dorking, Exeter and Manchester city centre.

Unite, the trade union, is seeking urgent talks with the company to clarify how many of the 780 jobs in Greater Manchester will be lost.

The cutbacks are part of a turnaround plan instigated by chief executive Mark Wilson (pictured). The company gave assurances that its operations in Perth will remain a core part of the business alongside offices in Bristol, Norwich, Sheffield and York. Group headquarters will remain in London. Dorking, which is a former Friends Life office, will remain the main site for the newly enlarged corporate pensions business.

Aviva announced some weeks ago that 1,500 jobs would be cut across the group as a result of its acquisition of Friends Life in April for £5.6 billion. Friends employed 3,700 with some roles overlapping the 16,000 at Aviva.

An Aviva spokesman said: “We have previously said that we expect to deliver approximately £225m of annual savings by the end of 2017 as a result of the Friends Life acquisition.

“Savings are expected to come from a number of areas, including simplifying the business and reducing property costs.”

The insurer is expected to grow its motor insurance claims operation in Norwich by transferring workers from the north of England to offices.

The company said it will create a “Motor Claims Centre of Excellence” in the city, former home of Norwich Union, by bringing together its commercial and personal motor claims departments. Aviva already employs about 5,000 people in the city.

The latest jobs announcement follows speculation that the company will offload property loans worth billions of pounds.

Audit firm Deloitte is believed to be working with Aviva on the plan which involves loans on sites including House of Fraser’s department store in Manchester.

The company has undergone a significant shake-up since Mr Wilson became chief executive in early 2013. The share price has increased by about a third under a turnaround plan that has seen the sale of under performing businesses, a reduction in debt and a simplification of the group’s structure.


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