Zurich's management overhaul is expected to put undue pressure on jobs at the insurer, Insurance Times has learned.

According to sources close to the company, there are plans under way to close offices, with Cheltenham expected to be the first likely target. It is understood managers at the branch will be moved to the Zurich's Fareham headquarters as the new management structure comes into force.

The news comes as Zurich appointed former RBS Insurance chief executive Annette Court as chief executive of its European business. The move has shocked industry leaders who described Court's move to Switzerland as "mad".

One senior source said: "It is a strange move for Annette to make. I am not sure she will like Switzerland very much, although this is a step up the career ladder."

Another broker said Court's appointment was a "real coup" for Zurich.

"She has an exceptional reputation and she will be a big loss to RBS. It will find it difficult to replace her," the source said.

On top of this, the newly-appointed chief executive of Zurich UK, Guy Munnoch, has announced a new management line-up, which includes Rob Allison as head of commercial direct and Mark Searles as managing director of retail.

Anne Torry will become chief operating officer and Tim Holliday has been named as chief underwriting officer.

The high-level appoint-ments have also taken into consideration the resignation of Dave Parry, formerly intermediary development director.

Zurich said all senior management would be based in the UK. A spokeswoman added: "We are constantly reviewing our premises strategy to ensure we have the right offices in the right places, but it's not our policy to comment on rumour or speculation."