Aviva, Britain’s largest insurance company, is to lay off up to 4,000 people at its Norwich Union business, 11% of Aviva’s total workforce. It is part of plans to make annual savings of 370 million euros by 2008. Group Human Resources Director, John Ainley, said it reflects the increase in people buying insurance online: “Fifty per cent of all our new motor insurance sales are done through the internet, that means we don’t need as many people in our call centres, the second reason is we need to be very competitive, we need to keep our costs down, and unfortunately people are a very high percentage of our total cost of running this business, our offshore operations are a part of that and thirdly we are bringing together two of our businesses and removing duplication between those businesses.”
Aviva, which has a market worth of 30 billion euros, tried unsuccessfully in March to merge with the second largest in the UK, Prudential. Created nearly six years ago by the mergers of several UK insurers, including Norwich Union, Commercial Union, and General Accident, Aviva has been one of the UK’s most aggressive financial-services companies in moving jobs to India. Up to 1,000 of the job losses just announced will go to call-centres there.