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Santander to close 140 branches

Written by: Danielle Levy
Santander plans to shut a fifth of its branch network – a move that could result in 800 job losses.

The high street bank said the decision to shut around a fifth of its branch network had been taken as a result of changes in how customers choose to bank with them.

In the future, it said its remaining 614-strong UK branch network will comprise of a combination of larger branches offering improved community facilities to local businesses and customers, and smaller branches which use technology to offer customers more convenience.

Santander said it had consulted trade unions on the proposals and plans to redeploy around a third of the 1,270 workers who will be affected by the changes. The consultation process will take place over the coming weeks, the bank added.

Growth of mobile banking

Susan Allen, head of retail and business banking, said the decision had been taken because a growing number of customers now use online and mobile for their banking.

For example, the bank pointed out that the number of transactions carried out via its branches had fallen by 23% over the past three years, while transactions via digital channels had increased by 99% over the same period.

“As a result, we have had to take some very difficult decisions over our less-visited branches, and those where we have other branches in close proximity.

“We will support customers of closing branches to find alternative ways to bank with us that best suit their individual needs. We are also working alongside our unions to support colleagues through these changes and to find alternative roles for those impacted wherever possible.”

As part of the proposed changes, Santander plans to invest £55m on the refurbishment of 100 branches over the next two years.

Blow for savers

Gareth Shaw, head of Which? Money described the move as a “blow” for those who rely on access to traditional banking services across the UK, at a time when branches are disappearing at a rate of more than 60 a month.

“While online banking is on the rise, a third of the country still does not use it and, as we’ve seen from a recent spate of IT failures, such systems are not infallible.
“Despite the switch to digital ways of banking and paying, millions of consumers still need access to cash. It is vital for a regulator to be given responsibility for ensuring that people have access to the services they rely on,” he explained.  

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