Insurance group Aviva is cutting up to 1800 operations roles at its UK-based Norwich Union business over the next two years.
Aviva says it will shut down 13 Norwich Union centres in the UK by 2010. The move affects facilities in Dundee, Glasgow, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool, Cheadle, Birmingham, Bristol, Southampton, Basildon, Ipswich, Exeter and Worthing.
Norwich Union will instead use seven "insurance centres of excellence" in Norwich, Perth, Bishopbriggs, Stretford, Manchester, Leicester and Southend, which will manage customer services, sales, claims and back office administration. Aviva says these sites offer the best skills base and availability, accommodation, access, IT and infrastructure.
Aviva says the cuts are part of cost cutting measures for Norwich Union revealed last October which are designed to save £200 million by the end of 2008.
The overhaul of the "operations function" will simplify processes and improve customer services, says Aviva, adding that recent mergers and acquisitions have left its operations too complex, with excessive products, processes, systems and locations.
In addition, the increase in business done via the Internet means that Norwich Union has to adapt in order to provide customers and partners with a choice of how they interact with the business including phone, Web and text, says Aviva.
"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," says Igal Mayer, chief executive, Norwich Union Insurance. "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."
Financial union Unite has condemned the move and says it will meet management to discuss the implications.
"This news for staff that their jobs are now in jeopardy is truly devastating," says Graham Goddard, deputy general secretary, Unite.
The latest job cuts are in addition to those disclosed in 2006 when Aviva said it would cut 4000 jobs at the Norwich Union unit by this year, with 500 IT roles outsourced to third party suppliers and 1000 jobs shifted to offshore centres in India.