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End of an era as Dunbar training centre to be razed

The Zurich training centre in Swindon, where tens of thousands of people trained for careers in financial services with Allied Dunbar, is to be demolished and redeveloped as a four-star hotel.

Many leading industry figures trained there, including Home of Choice chief executive Richard Coulson, while Positive Solutions executive chairman David Harrison and Thinc Destini chief executive Simon Chamberlain helped to run the centre.

Zurich says the centre is not commercially viable since it scrapped its direct salesforce in 2005 but the closure of King Edward’s Place has been hailed as the death knell of the salesforce.

One crop of trainees was famously encouraged to run over hot coals as part of their training to increase assertiveness in the late 1990s and hit the headlines when many of the group continued to run over the coals despite the fact that the first trainees had burnt their feet.

Coulson says: “The training centre was the envy of the industry. To get rid of it is a wider statement that we as an industry are not investing in our salespeople.”

Harrison says: “Many adv- isers began their careers there and I am very sad to see it go.”

Zurich spokeswoman Nic- ola Bryson says: “Now that we do not have a direct salesforce, it no longer makes commercial sense to keep it.”

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