‘More work required’ on UK retail business, says group chief Dominic Casserley

Willis has confirmed that it is cutting 200 jobs in the UK.

The role reduction exercise was launched at the beginning of the third quarter, and the 200 jobs will be cut by the end of this year, Willis group chief executive Dominic Casserley told analysts while discussing Willis’s first-half 2014 results.

News of the UK job cuts emerged in May, when Willis said it was consulting with staff over reductions. But the company did not confirm the number of job losses, believed to be between 100 and 200 at the time.

Willis has 4,000 employees in the UK.

The job losses are part of Willis’s global cost-cutting plan, which will also see the broker shift 3,500 support roles to low-cost locations from high-cost sites such as capital cities.

The cuts come as Willis continues to restructure its UK retail broking business. The division’s revenue suffered a “mid single-digit decline” in the second quarter of 2014, making it the fifth consecutive quarter of falling revenue.  

“This business continues to be in turnaround mode,” Casserley said. “As we noted last quarter, the performance challenges, including rate pressure and a weakening in our insolvency business have, hit the business. We have seen mild improvements in the second quarter, but more work is required.”

Willis merged its UK retail business with its London-based global speciality unit in January, creating a new division called Willis Insurance UK.

Despite the retail slump, this new division enjoyed “mid single-digit” revenue growth in the second quarter of 2014, in particular thanks to growth in the construction and property/casualty businesses within the global speciality unit.