Insurer rules out a repeat of Bristol cull

RSA does not foresee any other major office closures after slashing 400 jobs at its Bristol base last week, affecting 500 employees.

The insurer plans to close its city centre operation as part of its UK-wide cost-cutting programme announced earlier this year. It hopes to save £70m by cutting 1,200 jobs before the middle of 2010.

RSA also said the 400 jobs in Bristol were not the first to go since the firm released details of its “role reduction” programme in February. Management already has been cut by 15%, with between 230 and 240 jobs lost.

A spokesman told Insurance Times: “[Last week’s] announcement represents a significant step towards the 1,200 reduction we announced earlier this year. This is a phased programme. [The] Bristol role reduction was not the first to be made since we announced our cost savings earlier this year.”

The spokesman added: “We don't envisage withdrawing from any other location.”

Areas affected in the Bristol office include finance, claims, sales and support, customer administration and underwriting .

However, RSA said it planned to keep 40 staff at a new site in a local trading office to service its commercial brokers.

It said it would help staff to find new posts by running CV preparation workshops, offering a research service to find suitable roles, liaising with local employers to seek out prospective opportunities and giving staff access to specialist consultants.

Adrian Brown, RSA’s UK chief executive, said decisions like this were “always difficult” and that the company had announced its plans early to help staff find alternative employment, possibly within the company.

In February, RSA said it would make 14% of its 8,700-strong workforce redundant as it sought to achieve an expense ratio of about 14% by the end of 2012.

By 2010, the group would have reduced its headcount by 43% over seven years. In its full year results for 2008. net written premium rose 11% to £6.5bn, while pre-tax profit increased 13% to £759m.