Hundreds of CGNU regional staff could be forced to relocate in a massive shake-up of its regional general insurance operations.

Many of the 18,000 staff have been warned they may have to move to other offices when the new regional structure is set in place by December 2001.

A source close to CGNU believed it will downgrade the role of some of CGU's 50 offices – which carry out a wide range of commercial and personal lines functions – to specialised small business only.

CGNU's management has stressed it does not plan any job cuts and intends to transact general insurance business from all of CGU's existing offices.

A CGNU spokeswoman said: “No job losses are planned but some staff may have to be redeployed to other locations.” She was unable to say how many staff would have to move.

The insurance giant is planning to move to a new structure of up to ten personal lines centres and six commercial lines offices for England, Scotland and Wales.

CGNU's general insurance division employs 18,376 staff, the majority (10,751) are former CGU employees compared to 7,625 from Norwich Union.

The planned personal lines offices are: Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds, Manchester, Norwich, Reading, Watford and Worthing as well as an Edinburgh office which will have a satellite office in Belfast.

The locations of the commercial lines offices have not yet been decided.