Insurance boss defends job cuts as profits soar to £613 million

JPCT-08-02-12 RSA, Horsham S12060911a -photo by Steve Cobb
JPCT-08-02-12 RSA, Horsham S12060911a -photo by Steve Cobb

SOARING profits combined with redundancies have been defended by the chief executive of Royal Sun Alliance.

Adrian Brown spoke to the County Times in the week that the international insurance firm announced that profits before tax were up by 29 per cent to £613m.

We revealed just weeks ago that RSA in Horsham told 47 of the 850 staff at the North Street base their jobs were at risk of redundancy.

But Mr Brown justified the move, saying the company had to ‘go forward’.

He said the increased use of technology and online business was the main reason for the job losses but also one of the reasons the company had such strong results.

They were working very closely with Unite union, he stressed.

“We have got over 8,000 people in the UK and over the last few weeks up to 200 redundancies have been announced,” he said.

“We think we will end up lowering that when we go through redeployment. Things move on and we have to make changes as we go along.

“Unfortunately that means some people face redundancy.

“If you want to be successful you have got to go forward, you have got to continually look at the business being as efficient as it can be. We do not shy away from making difficult decisions.

“It’s never nice for individuals who are affected but we have to move the business forward and protect the other 7,800 jobs.”

Mr Brown called the UK ‘one of the most sophisticated markets in the world’ and said RSA was ‘really well placed in a very difficult market’.

“In a difficult market you have got to make the right decisions,” he said.

There was a wide spread of skills and resources at the Horsham base, they had been working hard on staff engagement and it was still an attractive place to work.

Last week they were going to The Times Top 100 Companies Awards. “It’s the first time we have entered this and we’re hopeful we will get a position,” he said. “It’s something we’re proud of.”

RSA, which also includes More Th>n, said net written premiums for 2011 were £8.1bn, up nine per cent from the previous year. Its underwriting result was £375m, up 58 per cent, it had an investment result of £642m, up 19 per cent, an operating profit of £884m, up 38 per cent, and profit before tax of £613m, up 29 per cent.

Mr Brown commented: “At group level we’re clearly really pleased with our results. We have grown our business by nine per cent and we stack up really well against our competitors.”

He pointed out UK business was only 38 per cent of the overall group and there were strong results in Canada, Scandinavia and emerging markets.

“The UK market is really tough,” he said. “We have improved our profit but there is still more work for us to do.

“More Th>n and our personalised business is based out of Horsham.

“Personalised business improved by ten per cent, which is positive news for Horsham.”