Sister companies blame soft conditions as they launch redundancy talks with 20 employees

Primary General and its sister company Rural Insurance are set to slash their workforce by 10%, blaming soft market conditions.

They have about 200 staff and are currently in redundancy talks with about 20 employees, Insurance Times understands.

The companies, part of Primary Group, are trimming staff at their Manchester and Birmingham offices, but insist they will continue to operate at all seven of their UK offices.

Simon Taylor, marketing director for Primary and Rural, said: “There is no hiding from the fact that market conditions have been extremely challenging. We have therefore taken the opportunity to look at the way that we manage our business and entered into a period of consultation with our staff and regions.

“This consultation is coming to an end and there will be a few people that will sadly be leaving us, nearly exclusively from the Manchester and Birmingham offices.”

Primary General, an underwriting agency with capacity providers including Norwich Union and AXA, had gross written premium of £100m last year. It is understood that the company has since struggled to match that figure.

The business has undergone some major changes in the past two years with Norwich Union replacing RSA as a major capacity provider. RSA pulled out of its three-year agreement two years early.

Richard Pitt, Primary’s commercial director, left last month, although no reason was given for his departure.

A bright spot for Primary has been the success of its online platform, which handles 1,000 policies a month.

Taylor said the performance of the internet business had added to the impetus for a restructuring. The company had concentrated on its core sectors – small and medium-sized enterprise, agriculture and independent brokers – over the past 18 months, he added.

“Over that period we have added 10-plus products and services that we can offer to our brokers, bringing our total to 20-plus.

“Our online platform, which still provides access to the local underwriters, has also been a great success. It continues to grow at several hundred covers a month.”