Insurance firm axes 177 jobs

Zurich Insurance
Zurich Insurance base at Whiteley in Hampshire Photo: ITV Meridian

It's the third such announcement in as many days. On Monday, British Gas said 550 positions would go at its call centre in Southampton. Then on Tuesday, Aldershot-based IT company Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) launched a 90-day consultation to axe up to 640 jobs.

Zurich Insurance in Hampshire is the latest big employer in the Meridian region to announce redundancies, with 163 positions going at its Whiteley offices, and another 14 in Farnborough. The company is also cutting 113 jobs in Cardiff, 13 in Leeds and 39 in Glasgow.

In total, 342 positions will be axed by the end of 2014. The jobs in Whiteley will end by mid-2013, with the roles in Farnborough expected to be cut between October and December this year. The business areas hit by the job losses are customer services and claims. More than 50 jobs will also go in India by the end of this year.

The company has said the move is part of business re-structuring. Zurich is re-launching its car insurance product which is sold through brokers. It will be run through existing partner, Broker Direct. Zurich also plans to transfer its existing books of car and home business for direct and partnerships to its subsidiary Endsleigh, and existing supplier Wessex Group.

“We recognise that these changes mean difficult messages for some of our employees, and we are committed to minimising the impact on people by reducing job numbers through redeployment, natural turnover and voluntary measures wherever possible.

– Karl Bedlow, personal lines managing director, Zurich

Karl Bedlow, personal lines managing director, said: “We recognise that these changes mean difficult messages for some of our employees, and we are committed to minimising the impact on people by reducing job numbers through redeployment, natural turnover and voluntary measures wherever possible.“However, we have to make sure that we can flexibly adapt our operational model and processes to meet constantly changing market conditions. That also means simplifying our structure to ensure having the right number of people to deliver our products and services according to the level of demand.

“We will continue to evolve our UK personal lines business to ensure it remains competitive, efficient and profitable.”There are currently 1300 people employed at the company's Whiteley offices. In 2008, they cut 170 jobs there and 16 more at their Southampton office.