INSURANCE company Royal & Sun Alliance is to make most of the 220 staff at its Leeds office redundant. The company also refused to guarantee that there would not be any job losses at its base in Halifax, which employs 900 staff.

Royal & Sun Alliance recently set itself the target of saving £130m – nine per cent of total costs in 2005 – by mid-2008. Most of this will be made through 1,550 job losses, including 1,000 in the UK.

Yesterday the company revealed that it planned "a significant reduction" of its Leeds workforce, including the closure of its St John's Centre office by June 2007.

A spokeswoman confirmed that it would mean that most of the 220 staff in Leeds would be made redundant. Fifty Leeds-based claims staff have already been served with redundancy notices.

A spokeswoman said: "The employees in our Hertford and Leeds sites are predominantly brokerages and this announcement goes a long way to reducing the 330 jobs earmarked at the broker division. The changes will be happening by June 2007 and we wanted to give them as much notice as possible.

"We still have a large presence in West Yorkshire with 900 jobs in Halifax. We are not intending to close any more sites, but cannot say categorically that there won't be any job losses in Halifax. These changes aren't being made because the company is in trouble; it's all about making the company leaner and more efficient.

"We will be working closely with our employees to provide career planning, including interview preparation and CV writing, and where there are vacancies in other offices affected employees will be eligible to apply for redeployment."

A spokesman for the trade union Amicus described the jobs losses as "awful" and said the union would be working with management to minimise the number of compulsory redundancies.

Royal & Sun Alliance, which operates the More Than insurance group, is the second largest commercial insurer in the UK and the third largest personal motor and household insurer.

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