Over 1,000 jobs at Santander have been thrown into question as the Spanish-owned banking giant plans to cull almost 20% of its branches.
The bank has already been in talks with trade unions in order to find alternative work for the 1,270 employees about to be laid off.
Susan Allen, head of retail and business banking at Santander, commented on the closures saying: “we have had to take some very difficult decisions over our less visited branches”.
Citing “changes in how customers are choosing to carry out their banking” as the main reason for the closures, the bank claimed that digital transactions had almost doubled whilst branch transactions had dropped by 23%.
The bank’s remaining 614 branches will pick up the stranded customers, with the locations being upgraded to offer community facilities at larger locations, and technological improvements at smaller branches.
£55 million has been set aside by Santander to upgrade 100 of its branches within the next two years.
Ms Allen explained that the closures were not to be seen as Santander’s first step in killing off all its branches as “we continue to believe that branches have a vital role to play”.
“We are confident that following these changes we will have the right branch network to serve our customers’ changing needs, and we expect the size of our network to remain stable for the foreseeable future.”
The branches will start to close on 25 April. The branches first to go will be Bathgate, Bideford, Clitheroe, Corby, Eastcote, Helensburgh, Oakham and two in London.
The last branches to be axed will be in Edinburgh, Guildford, London, Norwich and Nottingham on 12 December.
Santander isn’t the only bank to be shutting the doors of its brick and mortar locations. Consumer group Which? calculates 60 branch closures each month since 2015, totalling to well over 3000 branches axed across the various high street banks.
Banks are closing their doors as staffing and maintenance costs are high. With fewer and fewer customers walking through the doors, these costs are becoming hard to justify. A report published last year by UK Finance claimed that 13% more transactions were done through online banking apps than the previous year.
Additionally, extra funds can also be generated for banks by selling off their properties and utilised elsewhere in the business.
Although the move to online banking makes sense in an increasingly tech-focused era, there are concerns that many customers who rely on more traditional methods of banking are being left behind.