200 jobs to go as brokers warn clients of insurer's finances

Royal & SunAlliance (R&SA) will axe 200 jobs in a major reshuffle of its operating structure between next month and June 2003.

The insurer's small business, or enterprise, units will be cut from seven to two .

More Th>n's Birmingham site will be closed and intermediated personal lines business will be carried out from four centres instead of seven.

Management relationship locations will be reduced from 13 to nine.

The announcement came as brokers warned their clients about R&SA's uncertain financial state, in a bid to head off shocks like that of Independent Insurance's collapse.

Small business offices will close in Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester and Hertford, but remain in Birmingham and Glasgow, with a satellite office in Belfast.

More Th>n will close in Birmingham, but will recruit more staff at its Bristol, Liverpool, Sunderland, Peterborough and Ipswich sites, using employees dropped from the personal lines intermediated sites.

Personal intermediated business will no longer be done in Glasgow, Liverpool and London, although it will remain in Bristol, Halifax, Leeds and Oldham.

Some of the More Th>n staff from Birmingham will be placed in the small business teams.

Customer accounts will be moved from 16 locations into offices at Birmingham, Halifax and Leeds.

Glasgow will see most of the job losses.

R&SA UK chief executive Duncan Boyle said the moves would improve focus, efficiency and long-term stability, reshaping the business to better compete for business.

However, they are likely to make brokers that are already concerned about R&SA's stability even more wary.

When the enterprise centres were launched in July 2000, they were promoted as a display of R&SA's commitment to small business brokers.

"The insurance world is buzzing that the unit at Leeds has closed," one local broker said.

"Brokers are getting nervous about putting business with R&SA as it is, so this won't help."

Another said that brokers were covering themselves by warning their clients that they should not accept R&SA's ratings at face value, following the Independent debacle.