Norwich Union to close its national broker subsidiary Hill House Hammond

Article date: 5 February 2004

Norwich Union has announced that it is to close its nationalbroker subsidiary, Hill House Hammond (HHH), by the end of2004.

The closure of the business will be phased over 2004involving:

  • The closure of over 240 HHH branches and offices across the UKand the head office in Bristol
  • The transfer of the motor, home and travel insurance businessto Norwich Union Direct
  • The sale of the commercial insurance division

As a result of the decision, around 1,600 jobs will be lost fromthe HHH operation. Of these 1,600 jobs:

  • Around 400 staff will be found alternative roles throughNorwich Union’s UK-wide redeployment process, which matchesan individual’s skills to internal vacancies in the event ofredundancy.
  • There will be around 1200 compulsory redundancies.

In addition, Norwich Union Direct will be creating over 450 newjobs in its call centres in the UK to help handle the businesstransferred from HHH. These roles will be created in Norwich,Sheffield, Liverpool, Perth and Bishopbriggs, near Glasgow, during2004 and most staff will be in place by the end of the year. Thisannouncement is not connected with our recent offshoring plans.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Patrick Snowball,chief executive, Norwich Union Insurance, said: "We are operatingin an extremely competitive environment and have seen significantchanges in the way customers buy their insurance. Many customersnow understand their motor or home insurance needs and will shoparound themselves for the best deal. The number of customers whoshop on the high street to arrange their insurance has also fallensignificantly as many prefer to deal directly with insurers byphone or over the internet.

"Making decisions that affect our staff is always difficult, butwe believe these changes are needed for us to remain competitiveand adapt to changing market conditions. Norwich Union Direct isalready well established in the direct insurance market, offering awide range of products and services to millions of customers. Webelieve it will provide us with the best platform to strengthen ourdirect relationships with customers and better understand theirneeds.

"We are writing to all HHH customers to inform them of thesechanges as well as giving our reassurance that any impact will bekept to a minimum."

The changes announced today follow a strategic review of theHill House Hammond operation, which looked at the structure of thebusiness and opportunities to reduce costs and achieve greaterefficiency. The closure of HHH reflects the decision to increasemotor and home insurance through the company’s directinsurance arm, Norwich Union Direct, in line with changing customerdemand.

Norwich Union is in advanced discussions with a potentialpurchaser for ‘Hill House Hammond Business’ - thecommercial insurance division of HHH - and a further announcementwill be made shortly.

-Ends-

Media contact: Liz Kennett at Norwich Union press office on01603 688263/683820/684224 (out of hours 07801 901666).

Notes to editors:

Norwich Union Insurance

· Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer with a market shareof around 14 per cent

· With a focus on insurance for individuals and smallbusinesses, Norwich Union insures:

- one in five households

- one in seven motor vehicles

- more than 800,000 businesses

· Norwich Union products are available through a variety ofdistribution channels including brokers, corporate partners such asbanks and building societies and Norwich Union Direct.

Hill House Hammond (HHH) is a high street general insurancebroker, with over 800,000 customers. Its core business is home andmotor insurance but it also provides cover for specialist risks andhas a dedicated commercial division, ‘Hill House HammondBusiness’. HHH operates from over 240 branches and otheroffices nationwide.

  • Norwich Union’s news releases and a selection of imagesare available on the Aviva internet press centre atwww.aviva.com/media

An ISDN facility is available for studio quality interviews.Call the press office on 01603 683820

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