Broker launches consultation over proposal to close high street branches.

The impact of the internet on brokers’ front office staff was bought into stark focus this week with Endsleigh announcing that more than 300 jobs could be lost if it pushes ahead with a decision to scrap its 119 UK branches.

The Zurich-owned personal lines broker has admitted that the majority of its business is now placed online.

It has launched a six-month consultation with branch sales staff following a strategic review, which would see its entire branch network closed down by the end of the year.

The company said it would try to avoid redundancies by creating new regional based relationship teams and expanding its call centres in Burnley and Cheltenham, and its proposed centre in Northern Ireland.

It said that around 50 of the current sales staff would continue to service local relationships.

However, Mike Alcock, managing director of Endsleigh, said there would be departures. “Wherever possible we would look to retain staff to work at our three UK call centres, or at our head office, so that redundancies could be reduced.

“If the proposal goes ahead following our consultation with employer representatives, then those staff who are unable or unwilling to take up alternative positions will, unfortunately, have to be made redundant,” he said.

In a statement, the broker revealed plans to make further investment in its internet sites following a strategic review.

It said it expected the number of inquiries to increase, with currently more than 80% of all its inquiries and more than 30% of new business sales made online.

An Endsleigh spokesman said: “The whole industry will be well aware of the internet and the impact it is having on consumers’ behaviour when it comes to looking at insurance quotes. Very few people actually come in and transact in our branches. The numbers speak for themselves.”