Insurance giant Aviva may step back from markets in Europe and Asia as its first half profits fell by 30%.
Pre-tax profits at the firm, which has a major base at Pitheavlis, Perth, slumped to £1.08 billion in the six months to June 30 – down from £1.52bn for the same period last year.
The results are the first to be unveiled under the new chief executive Amanda Blanc, who took over the reins a month ago following the departure of Maurice Tulloch for family health reasons.
In an online press conference, Ms Blanc said customer service had improved during the Covid-19 pandemic and was proud of the way staff had gone “above and beyond” to help customers during the crisis, but the firm is “not the finished article”.
Ms Blanc outlined three priorities for Aviva, with the first priority being to focus the firm’s portfolio.
She said: “We will focus Aviva on our strongest businesses in the UK, Ireland and Canada and aim to be the UK’s leading insurer.
“We are going to focus on those businesses where we have the necessary size, capability and brilliant customer service to generate superior shareholder returns.
“This is where we will invest and grow – where we cannot meet our strategic objectives, we will take decisive action and we will withdraw capital.”
The second priority is to transfer performance and improve efficiency, which “requires great customer service, stronger innovation and better use of our brand.”
The third priority is the financial strengths of the firm.
Ms Blanc described the company’s financial performance in the first half of 2020 as “solid”.
“Our financial position is strong and operating profit of £1.2bn was robust, thanks to our diverse range of products, excellent partners and our swift operational response to the Covid-19 pandemic, ”she added.
Ms Blanc also acknowledged the importance of dividend payments to shareholders as the firm announced a 6p interim dividend.”
The company has around 600 members of staff working on-site at its facilities across the UK, with the figure likely to rise to 1,000 in the near future, however Ms Blanc said the pandemic had opened the firm’s eyes to new ways of working and will reflect on how the company can adopt flexible working practices.
“Judge me on my delivery,” She concluded.