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Expansion plans in tatters

Airdrie Savings Bank forced to close half of branches

Airdrie Savings Bank SouterAirdrie Savings Bank is closing half of its eight branches after a review revealed they were not attracting enough customers.

The bank, which famously expanded beyond its Lanarkshire base for the first time in 175 years when it opened in Falkirk in 2011, is to shut its Motherwell and Baillieston branches, and part-time outlets in Muirhead and Shotts.

Its branches in Airdrie, Bellshill, Coatbridge, and the branch in Falkirk will continue to operate.

The move will result in 20 job losses although six posts will be created following the review.

Closing branches is a significant u-turn on its expansion plans unveiled in 2010 when it attracted £10 million in investment from a number of Scottish tycoons. In the wake of the financial crisis, they claimed it represented a “role model for the way banks should be”.

Sir Brian Souter (above), Ann Gloag, Sir Angus Grossart, Sir David Murray, Ewan Brown, Alastair Salvesen and Sir Tom Farmer opened deposit accounts in a symbolic gesture of disillusionment with the bigger banks.

Airdrie BankBob Boyle, president, said at the time that the Falkirk opening was the first stage of an expansion that would see the bank open more branches across the country.

Today it confirmed there will also be some restructuring of back office operations as the bank seeks to modernise its processes.

Chief executive Rod Ashley said: “ASB operated for many years as a traditional branch-based bank.

“More recently, we have modernised our service delivery by offering online banking through our website and telephone banking through our customer contact centre.

“These improvements have proven extremely popular by providing customers with easy access to our services, when and how they choose.

“However, they have required significant and ongoing investment at a time when the banking sector has had to address many financial and operational challenges, ranging from the increased costs of stronger regulatory requirements to higher transaction-processing costs.

“As a result, the board has concluded that for Airdrie Savings Bank to grow and expand its services to the communities it serves in the future, we need to close some branches that are unsustainable, due either to low customer footfall and demand or the cost of maintaining them to a satisfactory standard.”

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