Aviva is stepping up efforts to shake up its UK commercial insurance business with plans to close two regional offices and to ask staff elsewhere to volunteer for redundancy.

The insurer on Tuesday asked for voluntary redundancy candidates at the operation, which employs about 700 people. It also told 41 people at its Northampton and Luton branches that it planned to close the offices.

The company said it was hoping to avoid compulsory redundancies and would open an office in Cambridge, creating between five and 10 roles. Aviva said it was too early to say what financial savings it would make as a result.

Gareth Hemming, trading director at Aviva UK’s regional broker operation, said the business’s geographic locations no longer necessarily matched where insurance brokers were based.

“The broker market has changed over the last few years,” he said. “Our footprint is an old footprint – it hasn’t kept pace with broker consolidation. [Northampton and Luton] were dealing with brokers who were not in their locality.”

The shake-up does not affect other parts of Aviva’s UK general insurance business, such as personal, motor and household. Overall, Aviva’s UK general insurance business contributed about a fifth of the FTSE 100 insurer’s £2.5bn operating profit last year.

Aviva is set for a broader shake-up following the departure as chief executive of Andrew Moss last month.

John McFarlane, incoming chairman who has also been appointed interim chief executive, is due in two weeks to set out how he plans to improve the group’s balance sheet.

Meanwhile, the company’s joint venture with CIMB Group in Malaysia, estimated to be worth a total of about $400m, is up for sale, people familiar with the matter said.

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