Cull of bank branches ‘could see 12,000 jobs put at risk’

Halifax bank in Sowerby Bridge
Halifax bank in Sowerby Bridge

Britain’s top five banks may be on track to axe up to 2,400 more branches, according to new research which says 12,000 jobs would be at risk as a result.

READ MORE: Halifax town centre bank announces closure

The report by banking and financial services analyst David Black, of DJB Research, and commissioned by the Nottingham Building Society, pointed to estimates suggesting that a network of just 600 branches could deliver “effective nationwide customer coverage”.

“Looking at the number of branches the top five banks have today, I estimate that, if this strategy was adopted, some 2,400 branches could still be closed,” Mr Black said.

READ MORE: Halifax MP anger over last bank closure in Sowerby Bridge

That figure would represent a closure of around 25 per cent of the existing bank branch network for Lloyds, RBS, NatWest, Barclays and HSBC.

Research from consumer group Which? shows that 670 branches have already been closed this year, with the figure for the whole of 2018 on track to eclipse last year’s figure of 879 closures.

READ MORE: Residents hit out as Elland will be left with no bank in the town

Earlier this year, Lloyds announced plans to shutter 49 branches across its Lloyds and Halifax brands between July and October this year, adding to 100 branch closures announced last year. RBS also announced plans to close 162 branches across England and Wales, on top of 259 closures announced last autumn.

READ MORE: Barclays bank announces closure of Hebden Bridge branch
HSBC recently ruled out further closures, saying HSBC’s network had already been reduced in recent years to the “optimal size”.

“There is little doubt that more bank and building society branches will close - this is inevitable as the way people manage their money is changing,” Mr Black said.

“However, the extent to which they are closing could be radically reduced if branches took on new services and approaches.”

The report predicts that some existing branches could reduce in size, removing cashiers and adding coffee shops to boost footfall in locations that would start to resemble a “convenience supermarket-style” approach where customers serve themselves when paying in cheques or managing savings accounts.

David Marlow, chief executive of Nottingham Building Society, said branches that focus only on transactions have “limited value”.