Lloyds TSB has approached property consultants to close up to 700 high-street branches when the retail bank completes the £12.2bn purchase of rival HBOS later this year.

The bank contacted several leading property agents – known to include DTZ, Jones Lang Lasalle and CB Richard Ellis – last week to consider the role. It is expected that two or three will be hired in the next few weeks to review and then sell branches across the UK in what would initially be a combined 3,000 retail unit empire.

The news will add to fears that there will be huge redundancies as a result of HBOS's rescue. Unite, the UK's biggest union, has tabled an emergency motion at the Labour party conference to review regulations of financial institutions as a result of the merger – part of a campaign to save the combined group's 143,000 jobs. Conference delegates in Manchester will debate the motion tomorrow.

Independent of Sunday