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L&G confirms closure of flagship office

L&G confirms closure of flagship office

Legal & General has confirmed it will shut down its flagship office in Kingswood by 2018, following a long-running dispute with Unite union members.

L&G today (21 January) announced the phased closure of the office, where around 1,400 members of staff are currently based.

Consultation over the office’s future started in July 2015, and according to the firm it “successfully concluded” in December.

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Closure of the site will start early this year and aims to finish in summer 2018.

According to L&G, shutting down the purpose-built office will not impact on the service provided to its customers.

Simon Burke, group commercial director at L&G, said: “The world we live in is digital, and how we work with and serve our customers is continually evolving.

He argued closing the office was not an easy decision to make, but it is “the correct one” for both Legal & General and its customers.

“To keep offering great value for money products to our customers, we need our employees working at fewer and the right locations, so we can drive costs down, and improve customer service.

“The Kingswood building, for all its history and strengths, is our least adaptable building to changing business demands, and has high rent and running costs.”

The plan to close the office was met with concern by members of staff, and in September members of the Unite trade union voted in favour of a strike.

However, in a final ballot earlier this month, members decided not to strike but voted to take industrial action instead.

Mr Burke said: “No-one ever wants to close a location, especially one that has served Legal & General so well over decades.

“I would therefore like to thank all those people who have worked in Kingswood, and those that work there now, for all their hard work in helping to make Legal & General the successful company it is today.”

L&G proposed transferring the Kingswood roles to its other sites in Hove and Cardiff. To help facilitate this, Unite and L&G have agreed relocation and travel packages.

If Kingswood employees are unable to move, or be redeployed, Unite and L&G have agreed severance terms, the firm said.

Ian Methven, Unite regional officer, said: “It is hugely disappointing that the Legal & General board are choosing to press ahead with this nonsensical decision.

“He said closing Kingswood will not only cost 1,550 dedicated and hard working professionals their jobs, it will rip a £21 million black hole into the local economy.”

Earlier this week, Unite members clashed with L&G over the planned closure and delivered a report which claimed it would “rip a £21m hole” in the Surrey economy.

“Unite members are clear that the campaign to save jobs will continue. We will launch a rolling programme of industrial action and we are calling on local politicians and community leaders to show their support for Kingswood.”