Yorkshire building society is closing 48 branches in a move it partly blamed on “an increasing desire among customers to transact digitally rather than on the high street”.
The announcement came 24 hours after HSBC said it would be shutting another 62 branches this year, on top of 55 already earmarked for closure.
The Yorkshire, Britain’s second largest building society, will quit the current account market in order to concentrate on mortgages and savings. It will also ditch the Norwich & Peterborough brand from the high street, having taken it over in 2011.
The society said the moves were designed to deliver better long-term value to its 3.3 million customers. The group aims to close 20 Yorkshire branches in May, and 28 N&P outlets from September. This would reduce the total number of branches and agencies from 308 to 260.
Chief executive Mike Regnier said: “We believe operating with Yorkshire building society as our sole high-street brand would allow us to run the business more effectively and efficiently, enabling us to deliver better products and services for our members.”
He added that customers’ increasing enthusiasm for running their finances via the internet and mobile phones was a key factor in the move. “We therefore no longer believe it is the right commercial position for us to continue to maintain these 48 branches across the N&P and Yorkshire network.”
N&P has offered a full banking service for some time, and has about 100,000 current accounts, but the Yorkshire said it was proposing to take the “difficult decision” to close all of these by 31 August. It said that if the plans went ahead it would write to customers to explain what they need to do. Those for whom this is their main or only current account face having to find a new account with another bank or building society.
The society added that about 440 staff could be at risk of redundancy over the next 18 months as a result of the shake-up. It said that where possible it would look to minimise proposed redundancies through natural turnover and by redeploying people into different roles.
Regnier said: “We continually review all areas of the business to ensure we remain focused on what our members require while utilising their money as effectively as possible. This means we must sometimes make adjustments to the way the business operates. We remain fully committed to providing the face-to-face service that many of our members value, and are planning to maintain a strong and sustainable national branch network.”