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7 October 2015

 

BRANCH NETWORK REDUCTION : 2015 REPORT

   
 
Branches Closed Since 1-1-90
Since 1-1-06 (10 years)
All banks 9500 (-53%) 2750 (-25%)
 

At 31-12-2015 there will be only 8400 retail bank branches in the UK, including around 40 of new bank, Metro but excluding 200 ‘branches’ of Handelsbanken UK, because its customers have to use other banks’ counters. Banks closed 500 branches in 2014 following 222 in 2013 and are on course for at least 650 closures in 2015.

 
Communities
Lost all banks
1500  
With only 1 bank 840  
With 2 banks 360  
With 3 or more banks 1100  
 
European Comparisons (branches per million inhabitants) 2014
UK
  145 (170 with Building Societies)
France 410  
Italy 500  
Germany

430

 
Spain 690  

There is a better geographical spread in the other countries, which retain regionally and locally owned banks.

 
Big 5 brands Net Closures* Since 1-1-90 Since 1-1-06 Leaving at 31-12-15
Lloyds 2427 (453 o/laps+467→TSB) 780 (84 o/laps+467→TSB) 1250e
NatWest 1898 532 1099
Barclays 1802 (279 o/laps) 668 (279 o/laps) 1361
HSBC 1065 536   977
Santander   839 (364 o/laps) 364 (364 o/laps)   807e
o/lap=merger of nearby branches following integration e.g. Barclays/Woolwich; Lloyds/TSB
 

The voluntary pledges by 3 of the Big 4 to keep open the ‘last bank in town’ protected 70% of sole bank communities more than 1 mile from an alternative bank but were cancelled in 2014.during which 124 ‘last banks’ were closed with 177 more in course this year. Currently most impacted by closures are ‘market’ towns/ rural hubs and seaside/retirement communities in England & Wales and secondary urban areas: all of which lose retail turnover as well as banking convenience, .

From May 1 2015 an agreement between the banking industry and government introduced an Access to Banking Protocol which recognised the banks’ inalienable right to close branches but imposed obligations on them to engage with communities on post closure provision. Post office outlets are the industry’s and government’s only alternative but at the time of publishing this report the situation is deemed by many to be unsatisfactory. The industry has continued to decline to pursue neutral shared use branches (community banks and banking centres), an operationally proven alternative to the post office ‘solution’ which could offer a cost effective way to sustain a branch presence in larger bankless communities, extend coverage and, elsewhere, to significantly reduce banks’ operating costs whilst affording opportunities to improve the government’s objectives to open up retail banking competition.

Neither Santander, TSB nor new entrants like Metro, Handelsbanken UK and Virgin seem interested in filling the voids being created by the Big 4’s closures.

 
 

Sources: CCBS Research, BBA 2014, European Central Bank 2015