THE boss of insurance giant Aviva’s York-based division has praised his staff for their efforts in contributing to the group’s rise in profits.

Aviva plc, which has its Life business headquarters in York, revealed a six per cent increase in operating profits, up to £2.05 million.

The group increased the value of new business by 13 per cent to £835 million.

The Life division grew operating profit by five per cent, while operative expenses were cut by 16 per cent, partly made up of the loss of 600 jobs last year.

Remittances doubled and the value of new business was four per cent higher.

David Barral, chief executive of Aviva Life, told The Press: “Given we are the largest business within the group and one of the most mature our primary job from a group perspective is to deliver increasing and sustainable dividends to the group, then we focus on growth.

“We saw a 14 per cent increase in Protection based new business. Personal protection was up 10 per cent, and up about 30 per cent in terms of value.

“We expect good growth ahead as we work continuously with our banking partners; we have unrivalled strategic partnerships.

“Expenses were reduced through a combination of things. We cut in half our investment in new technology and we cut a whole lot of discretionary spend.

“There were a number of role reductions in the business. It was a very, very tough year for our staff, and I am glad we are through it now. I am very proud of how our people and our managers worked through that. It’s worth noting that our service to customers over that time was the best it has ever been.”