CYBG, owner of Clydesdale Bank, Yorkshire Bank and Virgin Money, has announced plans to close 17 branches as the Bank evolves the shape of its national network to meet changing consumer demand.
Following last year’s combination with Virgin Money, the Bank has a new national branch network which will remain a vital part of its long-term strategy. The shape of the Bank’s national network will continually evolve, including the opening of new branches - like recent openings in Manchester and Birmingham - while also reviewing the location of existing branches.
The number of customers using branches for day-to-day transactions across the UK banking industry has been on a downward trend for a number of years, with branch visits dropping by 26% over a five-year period. This downward trend has also been reflected in reduced footfall in CYBG branches. As the Bank evolves its proposition to meet this changing consumer behaviour, customer convenience is key, and the Bank continually reviews and monitors its online, mobile and telephone services, as well as the effectiveness of the branch network.
Following today’s announced closures, two thirds of the Great Britain population will live within 10 miles of one of CYBG’s 219 branch locations. The Bank’s network will include 62 Clydesdale Bank branches, 84 Yorkshire Bank branches, 70 Virgin Money stores and lounges, and three B stores, making up a strong footprint across the UK.
CYBG has made a significant investment to ensure customers can take full advantage of advances in technology to manage their accounts. Over £350m has been invested in the Bank over the past three years, ensuring every CYBG customer has access to its leading mobile app. CYBG was the first UK bank to offer cheque clearing through its mobile app, and more than 60,000 cheques were cleared this way in 2018.
Fergus Murphy, group retail director at CYBG, said: “We are committed to maintaining a national network of branches. Announcing plans to close branches is never easy and it’s not a decision we take lightly. A number of factors are taken into consideration when reviewing our network, including branch usage, footfall and customer behaviour. Each branch is also assessed on an individual basis, carefully considering the impact on the local area, as well as alternative options.”
CYBG will work with customers, local communities and relevant stakeholders to ensure that the transition to a new branch, and alternative ways of banking, are as smooth and as sensitive as possible, particularly where vulnerable customers are concerned.
Fergus added: “As customers change the way they want to bank with us, we need to find the right balance for our network. However, we are clear that branches will continue to play a vital role in our business. Our recent ‘Bank to the Future’ report highlighted the importance of the human touch, with 81 per cent of consumers still wanting to speak to someone, or visit a branch, no matter how advanced technology gets, so our branches are critical.
“Rebalancing the network for the way customers bank today means we are continuing to invest significantly in the network. We recently opened new branches in Manchester and Birmingham, and there has been an ongoing branch refurbishment programme. We have also been at the forefront of new technology to help improve the banking experience for customers, including the introduction of cheque imaging, continuous improvement of our mobile banking apps and the installation of smart ATMs.”
The branches will begin to close in August and it’s the Bank’s intention to find alternative roles for branch colleagues either within other branches or elsewhere in the Bank, wherever possible. However, because of these branch closures, a small number of colleagues will be at risk of redundancy and will be assisted through the Bank’s redeployment process with the aim to minimise compulsory redundancies.
In line with the Access to Banking Standard, posters will be placed in each affected branch and written notification will be sent to customers at least 12 weeks before any branch closes providing details on the alternative ways of continuing to manage their accounts, including nearest branches and Post Office counters - which current account customers can use for day-to-day banking.
In addition to the branch closures, two Clydesdale Bank business banking centres will also close.