Britannic Group is to cut 2000 jobs, mainly in its Britannic Assurance salesforce, to make a saving of £82m by 2002.

The financial services and insurance company made the announcement as it released its 2000 results, including a pre-tax operating profit of £174.5m, up 7.5%.

Chairman Harold Cottam said it was no longer possible to run a large salesforce serving low-to-middle-income households.

The company is to focus on “more valuable distribution channels”, such as independent financial advisors and tied agencies, having recently signed a distribution agreement with estate agents Spice Haart.

“We expect job losses to be around 2,000 during this financial year,” Cottam said. “We're currently in consultation with unions on the best approach to this.”

He said this cut would result in a 40% reduction in sales at Britannic Assurance, which would be offset by the rapid sales growth in Britannic Retirement Solutions and Britannic Asset Management.

The redundancies will comprise 1,600 sales staff and 400 from the back office. They will be offset by the creation of 250 jobs in the company.