Aviva reveals turnaround battle

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The performance that prompted Aviva shareholders to oust chief executive Andrew Moss was laid bare in figures today.

With its shares nearly 40 per cent lower than a year ago, Britain’s biggest insurer revealed a five per cent drop in long-term savings sales and flat general insurance and health premiums in the first three months of the year.

Aviva’s £1.3bn exposure to the troubled eurozone economies of Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain also continued to hit the group, as life and pension sales in Italy and Spain tumbled 23 per cent.

The soft performance comes despite a series of TV adverts starring actor Paul Whitehouse, known for his work with comedian Harry Enfield, in which he plays a variety of characters promoting a range of insurance products.

Stand-in boss John McFarlane repeated his pledge to lift the group’s financial performance as he prepares to conduct a strategic review of all its businesses.

Mr McFarlane stepped in as executive deputy chairman following the abrupt exit of Mr Moss, who stood down after investors staged a massive protest vote against Aviva’s annual pay report.

Aviva, which has around 4,500 Yorkshire employees, has its UK life and pension business based in York.

It has about 2,600 staff in York and 1,600 in Sheffield.