Stoke-on-Trent, England, Jan 22, 2019 -- Insurance provider Ageas is to shut its Stoke-onTrent office with the loss of 388 jobs.
Bosses delivered the bombshell news to staff during a briefing at the firm's Trentham Lakes call centre this afternoon.
Workers were told that the office will shut in June, 2020 and a staff consultation is now underway.
The international provider - which traces its roots back to 1824 - sells vehicle, home and travel insurance. It has blamed its decision on online competition and increased technology.
In a statement, an Ageas spokesman said: "Customers are increasingly choosing to buy and service policies through digital channels. In addition, we have removed complexity from our business and invested in technology to make us more efficient. These changes in our business mean we have fewer employees, but we retain a substantial amount of workspace and facilities.
"Our plan is to reorganise our sites to reflect this changing environment – a course of action we did not take lightly.
"We have decided it makes sense to prioritise the sites that we own in Eastleigh, Bournemouth and Gloucester, and retain leased offices in the major cities of London and Manchester.
"Sadly, our Stoke-on-Trent office does not fit this new plan and therefore we have made the tough decision to start a consultation to close this office at the end of June, 2020.
"This is clearly very difficult news for our employees and our priority is to support them through what we know is an unsettling time. We are committed to listening to them, being open and transparent during the consultation, and supporting them in any way we can through the changes."
One worker has described this afternoon's announcement as a 'real blow'.
He added: "It's very disappointing that such a large firm is closing its Stoke-on-Trent office and so many jobs are going. It's such a shame for the area.
"A lot of insurance firms and call centres that don't use the internet as much are struggling these days."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
ageas SA/NV is a multinational insurance company co-headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. Ageas is Belgium's largest insurer and operates in 14 countries worldwide.
Published: Thursday, January 24, 2019
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