Virgin Money to shut almost a third of UK branches

Virgin Money has become the latest lender to reveal a new wave of branch closures, revealing plans to axe almost a third of its network.

The lender, which blamed “changing customer demand” for its decision, admitted some staff would be at risk of redundancy due to its decision though it hoped to redeploy some of those affected. The Unite union said up to 260 jobs could be lost.

The announcement builds on thousands of branch closures conducted by high-street lenders since the financial crisis under cost-cutting plans.


The industry has consistently argued that online and mobile banking services have stripped demand for branch services.
In Virgin Money’s case, it would be left with just 91 sites once the closure programme has been completed – expected by the end of the year.

The 39 sites affected are as follows:

• Belfast
• Chelmsford
• Enfield
• Hexham
• London Haymarket
• St Albans
• Bournemouth
• Cheltenham
• Exeter
• Irvine
• Milton Keynes
• Swindon
• Brighton
• Chester
• Fort William
• Kendall
• Newton Stewart
• Turrif
• Bristol
• Croydon
• Golders Green
• Kensington
• Norwich
• Wolverhampton
• Bromley
• Derby
• Gosforth Centre
• Kingston
• Oxford
• Cambridge
• Durham
• Guildford
• Liverpool
• Reading
• Cardiff
• Ellon
• Harrow
• Lochgilphead

The company said: “Each store was assessed on an individual basis, with careful consideration of the impact on the local area, as well as the needs of vulnerable customers and the accessibility of alternative services such as free-to-use ATMs and Post Offices.

“Each store closing is less than half a mile from the nearest Post Office, which customers can use to carry out day‐to-day transactions, including cash deposits and withdrawals, cheque deposits and balance enquiries, as well as coin exchange.”

Sarah Wilkinson, chief operating officer at Virgin Money, added: “The decision to close a store is never taken lightly. But as our customers continue to change the way they want to bank with us, by conducting fewer transactions in-store and adopting the convenience of digital banking, we must respond to that evolving demand.

“Our focus is on supporting our customers and colleagues. We have considered the number of vulnerable customers using each store very carefully throughout the review process as a key factor in our decision making, and will proactively provide enhanced, bespoke care to ensure any vulnerable customers affected are supported through the changes.

“For our colleagues, we will pursue all options to retain as many as possible within alternative roles, and have had great success previously with store colleagues moving to other customer operations roles, as their skills are highly transferable.”

Unite national officer, Caren Evans, responded: “The staff at Virgin Money UK are understandably devastated… Unite has urged the bank to rethink these catastrophic plans to withdraw banking services from communities who very much depend on the skilled and experienced banking staff.

“This decision to pull out of these locations will hurt some of the most vulnerable, disabled and digitally excluded customers. Unite said that more than 6,000 bank branches have closed since 2015.

The shift has exacerbated worries about access to cash and calls for the City watchdog to use looming powers to ensure communities are not financially cut off.

Virgin Money made its announcement ahead of the new consumer duty rules which come into force on 31 July.

Financial Conduct Authority chief executive Nikhil Rathi told MPs this week: “They raise the standard for consumer protection in financial services, we hope significantly.

“What we are saying here is through every part of their business, from the manufacture of products, the distribution, the pricing and the customer service support, firms have to think about how they’re placing consumers at the heart of the journey



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