Shaun Lowthorpe, Business editor
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Aviva chairman John McFarlane said a shake-up of the business would not turn the clock back to the days of Norwich Union.
Mr McFarlane today signalled a retreat on the firm’s global ambitions after admitting the insurance giant had stretched itself too far across the world - unveiling a £400m savings plan plan to cull senior managers including Norwich staff and sell off non-performing parts of the business.
Despite the increased focus on business areas which largely pre-date the creation of a single Aviva brand in 2008, he insisted the strategic review was not an attempt to turn back the clock to the days of Norwich Union.
“You could draw the conclusion that the scope of the business has grown too wide...that we stretched it too far and need to bring it back into line,” he added. “We are not going back to Norwich Union, simply because a lot of our businesses are outside of the UK.
“Having launched an incredibly successful Aviva brand across the group, it would be a step backwards for us to go back to the other brands,” he added. “There is no intention of doing that. It’s now Aviva not Norwich Union, and in that respect, that’s the way it will stay.”
As part of a number of senior executive changes David McMillan, current chief executive of the Norwich-based UK and Ireland general insurance business is to take up a new role as director of group transformation to oversee the efficiency drive while Aviva Canada boss Robin Spencer will replace him.
Mr McMillan was keen to stress that Norwich was still a key part of the business and when questioned by the EDP said job losses in Norwich would be “proportionate” to cuts happening elsewhere in the group.
“Norwich remains the head office of the general insurance business,” Mr McMillan added. “We employ between 6,000 and 7,000 people in Norwich and Norwich will remain an important centre for the group.
“We are looking to improve the effectiveness of management across the group, we are not expecting significant changes to the people.”
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