Serco axes 500 jobs in shake-up


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The Independent Online

Prisons to defence giant Serco is to chop 500 UK jobs as part of a shake-up in the way it provides back-office services to public and private sector organisations worldwide.

The outsourcing group, which delivers back-office support for a range of industries, including banking, insurance, travel and healthcare, is merging its business processing operations into one global division, following a series of acquisitions.

The move, combined with an overhaul of its UK management structure, will lead to 500 job losses in the UK, most of which will fall at the company's office in Hook, near Basingstoke.

Elsewhere, Serco unveiled a new £55 million contract with the British Army to provide training and support to military personnel prior to deployment on operations around the world.

Serco, which employs 100,000 staff worldwide, including 35,000 in the UK, has previously warned that its divisions in the UK and US were facing "challenging conditions" in the face of central and local government cutbacks.

Almost half of sales already come from outside the UK.

The company, which runs four prisons in the UK and London's Barclays Cycle Hire scheme, reported a 10% increase in pre-tax profits to £111.8 million in the six months to June 30.

The company decided to merge its back-office services after a number of acquisitions, including The Listening Company in the UK, Intelenet in India and Excelior in Australia.

Its latest contract with the Ministry of Defence to provide training to the British Army will start in April.

The Contemporary Operating Environment Force will provide training until December 2014 and will involve training soldiers in essential language, culture and operational environment skills, and will create realistic training conditions to prepare forces for deployment in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Serco chief executive Christopher Hyman said: "This contract builds on our proven track record in helping the Armed Forces in the UK, US and Australia, and recognises our high-quality, efficient and innovative approach in training services."