Job losses in Harrogate as Engage Mutual moves south

Peter Burrows, chief executive of Engage Mutual in Harrogate.

Peter Burrows, chief executive of Engage Mutual in Harrogate.

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Engage Mutual said today that as many as 163 jobs will be lost in Harrogate over the next two to three years, as the insurance company moves all its operations to Brighton following its merger with Family Investments.

The merger, which won the backing of 95 per cent of Engage’s members last year, gained regulatory approval yesterday and is expected to be completed on April 1.

It will see Engage’s £900m in assets and 500,000 members join with Family’s £4.9bn in assets and more than two million members.

Peter Burrows, chief executive of Engage Mutual, said the decision to move south was driven by considerations of operating efficiency.

“We considered several options, including moving operations to Harrogate and staying in both Harrogate and Brighton, but the decision to move south came down in large part to size: there are around double the number of people working in Brighton as there are in Harrogate, so moving operations north would have been even more disruptive,” he said.

The mutual will gradually transfer operations to Brighton, and hopes to complete the process by the end of 2017, but says it will not be making any redundancies until at least three months after the merger date.

Staff at Engage Mutual, who will be offered relocation opportunities, were told of the plans on Friday morning.

“It was obviously a difficult message to hear and clearly a number of people are disappointed, but the staff took it very professionally,” said Mr Burrows, who will ultimately relocate to Brighton as chief financial officer of the new entity.

“I’m very proud that as an organisation we’re setting personal interest aside and doing what is right for our members – but it’s not easy.”