The Royal Bank of Scotland announced Friday it will close 259 bank branches and reduce its staff by 680. Shares in RBS – which is still 71% owned by the British tax-payer – fell, following the news.
The bank said it plans to expand its e-banking abilities to provide its customers with what they want.
By 1115 BST, RBS shares were down 1.50% at £272.46.
Branch footfall falls
RBS said the decision was driven a by a decline in customers visiting its bank branches. Some 62 RBS and 197 NatWest branches will be closed.
“More and more of our customers are choosing to do their everyday banking online or on mobile,” RBS said in a press release.
“Since 2014 the number of customers using our branches across the UK has fallen by 40% and mobile transactions have increased by 73% over the same period. Over 5 million customers now use our mobile banking app and one in five only bank with us digitally,” it added.
The bank said it was hoping to manage the job losses on a voluntary basis.
“We expect these branch closures to result in around 680 redundancies, RBS said. “We realise this is difficult news for our colleagues and we are doing everything we can to support those affected. We will ensure compulsory redundancies are kept to an absolute minimum”.
Branch closures a “betrayal”
While RBS said the move represented a change in the bank’s offering to coincide what it’s customers need, the Unite union accused the bank of betraying local communities.
“The Royal Bank of Scotland has decided to decimate its bank branch network,” Unite’s national officer Rob MacGregor said.
“The closure of another 259 branches is savage and represents a betrayal of loyal staff and customers who have supported the bank for decades. Why is the Government signing off this alarming branch closure program?,” MacGregor added.