Aviva sees strong growth at Yorkshire operations

Aviva's British insurance arm saw profit increase 13 per cent
Aviva's British insurance arm saw profit increase 13 per cent
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​Insurance giant Aviva has ​reported​ an increase in full-year profit and pledged to sp​end more than £1​bn on acquisitions and shareholder returns.

The group reported a 2​ per cent​ rise in operating profit to £3​bn in 2017, driven by a strong performance in the UK.

Aviva's British insurance arm saw profit increase 13​ per cent​ to £2.2​bn.​ ​Aviva employs 2,000 people at its ​life​ and general ​insurance ​business ​in ​York​ and 1,500 at its life and health insurance operation in​ Sheffield​​​.​​

Chief executive Mark Wilson said: "Our largest market, the UK, has gone from strength to strength, growing sales, market share and profit. For Aviva, the UK is a dependable and growing business."

He also said the group will deploy £2​bn of excess cash this year, including £900​m in debt reduction, "in excess" of £500​m of capital returns to shareholders and about £600​m for bolt-on acquisitions.

Mr Wilson has been eyeing acquisitions in artificial intelligence and big data as he attempts to transform Aviva into a fintech firm.

Aviva is also working with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on developing ways to offer better financial guidance and support to consumers.

Mr Wilson added: "We continue to invest in our businesses and in particular on priorities such as digital to make our products and services easier for our customers.

"Aviva is now a simpler, stronger group and we are growing. Our strategy is paying dividends."

Mr Wilson has also been pushing through a radical shake-up of the group, exiting fringe businesses to focus on its core operations.​ ​Aviva offloaded its Spanish operations for £178m​​​ earlier this year.