Scotland business

Job losses at Kwik Fit Insurance Services confirmed

kwik fit

More than 500 jobs are to go at Kwik Fit Insurance Services in North Lanarkshire, after attempts to find a new operator failed.

Staff at the Uddingston contact centre were told it will close on 31 March.

Owner Ageas said it had suffered the consequences of a change in the way people buy insurance.

After closure plans were set out in November, a team involving the council and government agencies sought to find a way of keeping the workforce intact.

However, none was found to be workable.

Ageas will now focus on finding alternative work for the 521 staff being made redundant. It claims to have identified 1,800 possible local vacancies this year, and about 40 employers that could use a similar range of skills.

'Unsettling time'

Ant Middle, chief executive of Ageas Direct and Partnerships, said he regretted the decision to close the Uddingston office, but said the interest from other employers "not only evidences what we already know - that we have capable, skilled and experienced people - but also that there are many good opportunities in the local area".

He added: "We will do all we can to support our people in securing alternative roles.

"I know this has been a difficult and unsettling time for all of our employees and I want to thank each of them for their professionalism throughout the process."

The government-backed service Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (Pace) is to open an office at the Tannochside site to provide employees with advice on dealing with redundancy and finding alternative employment.

This will be backed up by Penna outplacement services, and there will be recruitment fairs.

'Very disappointed'

Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse said he was "very disappointed" at the decision by Ageas to close the site.

He said: "The Scottish government, our enterprise and skills bodies and North Lanarkshire Council have been working hard with Ageas to look at all possible options to secure the future of the site and its workforce.

"Unfortunately, despite the significant and ongoing efforts of all involved, the company decided that closure could not be avoided.

"A substantial number of companies have already expressed an interest in the employees, which is very encouraging, and I have confirmed that we will work with Ageas to help the individuals affected access new opportunities."

Mr Wheelhouse added that Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International would also work closely with Ageas to market the contact centre site to investors in the UK and internationally.

'Employment opportunities'

North Lanarkshire Council leader Jim Logue said it was "clearly disappointing" that Ageas had been unable to find a business to take over the site.

He said: "Council staff have worked tirelessly to identify potentially-interested parties.

"However, it is encouraging that many of these other businesses have expressed an interest in providing employment opportunities for the dedicated and skilled workforce at Kwik Fit Insurance."

He added: "We will play a full part, through our employability specialists and working with partners, to ensure that affected staff are given every chance to take these opportunities with other businesses."

Ageas bought Kwik Fit Insurance Services in July 2010, for £215m. Since then, it has had no connection with the garage business of that name, with which it was founded in 1995.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites