Standard Life cuts 600 jobs in £100m cost-cutting drive

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The Independent Online

The Scottish insurance giant Standard Life will axe up to 600 jobs over the next 15 months as part of efforts to cut £100m from the company's costs by the end of next year.

Of the 600 jobs to go, about 100 are currently held by contractors, another 100 will be met by natural attrition and 24 are vacancies which will not be filled, the company said yesterday. Alongside the plans for cuts – which will now be subject to a 90-day consultation period with staff – Standard Life is also set to create another 100 positions in its four key business areas. "Standard Life will do everything that it can to redeploy the remaining employees back in to the business and every effort will be made to keep compulsory redundancies to a minimum," the company said in a statement yesterday.

The move is part of the transformation programme put in place by David Nish after his appointment as chief executive in January, which has already seen a shake-up of roles at the top of the company.

In an acceleration of plans to streamline Standard Life set out by his predecessor, Sandy Crombie, Mr Nish has outlined the four core areas of focus: corporate, retail, investment management and the company's joint ventures in Asia. In the last 12 months, Standard Life has sold out of its banking and healthcare businesses, in line with a more focused strategy, and investment in the four core areas is being doubled to £200m.

The headcount reductions will play a key role in the company meeting its cost-cutting target by the end of 2011 as planned. Standard Life has not put a figure on efficiency savings achieved so far, but the company says it is on track to meet the timetable.

"As we transform Standard Life to deliver its growth ambitions, there is a need to both invest for future growth and actively manage our costs to be competitive," Mr Nish said.

"The decision announced today is part of the journey towards being a more adaptable and flexible organisation," he said. "Our people will be provided with the support they need while the group goes through this necessary change."