Portsmouth Santander branch among 111 across country to close doors

SANTANDER in Cosham is among 111 branches due to close by the end of August in response to the ongoing shift by customers towards mobile and online banking.

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 11:02 am
Updated Thursday, 25th March 2021, 12:23 pm

The Cosham branch, in the high street, is the only casualty from the region that is set to shut its doors. It will close on August 12.

The closures has been accelerated by the pandemic, although branch transactions fell by a third over the two years before the virus crisis and declined by a further 50 per cent in 2020, said the banking giant.

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Santander in Cosham is due to close in August

There are also branches in Fareham, Gosport and Waterlooville. A branch in Palmerston Road in Southsea closed in 2016, and one in North End closed its doors in June 2017.

Mobile and online transactions have been growing by 20 per cent each year, with almost two thirds of transactions now digital.

Most of the branches being closed are less than three miles from another Santander branch, and the furthest is five miles.

The closures will leave a network of 452 branches, while Santander said it expects to find alternative roles for a significant number of staff affected by the announcement.

Adam Bishop, head of branches at Santander, said: ‘Branch usage by customers has fallen considerably over recent years so we have made the difficult decision to consolidate our presence in areas where we have multiple branches relatively close together.

‘We will provide every support to customers of closing branches to find alternative ways to bank with us that best suit their individual needs.

‘We are also working alongside our unions to support colleagues through these changes and to find alternative roles for those impacted wherever possible.

‘We continue to believe that branches have an important role to play and we expect the size of our network to remain stable for the foreseeable future.’

The Communication Workers Union said it had reached a ground-breaking agreement with Santander on new ways of working which will preserve jobs and avoid compulsory redundancies that would otherwise have been “inevitable”.

National officer Sally Bridge said: ‘Recent membership surveys have indicated a desire from a large majority of those currently working from home for flexibility to continue after the pandemic, and this agreement achieves that for the majority of employees affected by these changes.

‘Ultimately, however, faced with the proposals of site closures and consolidations, the deal we’ve negotiated has avoided compulsory redundancies by giving individuals genuine options, crucially protecting our most vulnerable members for whom dual location arrangements were not suitable on account of their exceptional circumstances.

‘Santander deserves credit for recognising its responsibilities to its employees and I hope other employers follow the moral lead the bank has taken in what is likely to be one of the first of many far-reaching corporate readjustments to the post-Covid world of work.’

Kevin Mountford, co-founder of savings provider Raisin UK, said: ‘What we are going to see now is the constant push for online banking. What Santander has done, however, is look for opportunities to place their employees elsewhere within the business, rather than just leaving them in uncertain times. With 111 branches closing, this totals up to a lot of space within the rental market along our nations high streets.

‘It's no surprise that face-to-face branch meetings have declined, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we have had no choice but to sort our banks online or through mobile phone calls. It's a sad time for all sectors, but it's the face to face consumer sectors that are going to suffer the most.’

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