Virgin Money axes more branches and cuts office space
More branches will close
Virgin Money is closing a further 31 stores, including 12 in Scotland, early next year and said it will require less office space for staff.
The bank said 112 full-time equivalent jobs are likely to go, estimated by trade union Unite as affecting 132 individuals, while other affected staff will be offered positions elsewhere in the group.
It also said it will have lower office space requirements, with infrastructure and office hubs re-purposed to fit new ways of working.
It was not clear if this would impact on its imminent move to a new head office in Bothwell Street, Glasgow.
The group will incur a £45m restructuring charge in Q4 as the combined cost of the branch and office changes.
The steps announced today are the first phase of the acceleration of Virgin Money UK’s digital strategy, which aim to drive further productivity gains, further digitisation and greater cost efficiency.
It said day-to-day transactions in branches have been on a downward trajectory across the industry for a number of years, and this has been further accelerated by the pandemic.
The decision to close branches took into account the needs of vulnerable customers and the accessibility of alternative services such as free-to-use ATMs and Post Offices.
The bank is moving its head office to Glasgow’s biggest office development
One of the branches closing is a colleague-only store in the Gosforth office, which will not reopen following its closure at the start of the pandemic in early 2020.
It said 28 of the 30 branches closing are located less than a third of a mile away from the nearest Post Office. Of the other two, one is 0.7 miles away from a Post Office and the other is 2.7 miles from the nearest alternative Virgin Money store.
Fergus Murphy, group customer experience director at Virgin Money said: “As our customers change the way they want to bank with us and conduct fewer transactions in-store, we must continue to evolve the role of our stores into places where we showcase our products and bring our digital services to life.”
Written notification will be sent to customers and posters will be displayed in each affected store at least 12 weeks before they close, providing details on the alternative ways customers can continue to manage their accounts, including nearest alternative stores, ATMs and Post Office counters.
Virgin Money will work with customers to support a smooth transition, particularly where vulnerable customers are concerned. A range of support services will be available prior to store closures, including digital workshops to help customers become more comfortable with digital banking.
Following these changes, Virgin Money will have a network of 131 stores across the UK.
Trade union Unite said it would be raising its concerns over the closures with the Scottish Government.
Debbie Hutchings, Unite industrial officer, said: “The proposed closure of twelve Virgin Money branches across Scotland is not only shameful but bizarre as the group has just about completed the rebranding exercise of the former Clydesdale branches.
“The announcement will disproportionately impact on workers and communities across Scotland, and it is here where the Virgin Group axe will fall the hardest. Island communities from Portree to rural towns such as Wick are going to be left behind by Virgin Money.
“Our nation’s town centres from Cumbernauld to Musselburgh will be further hollowed out as fewer people will come into town if there is no bank branch. This will directly hit the businesses that remain on the high street.”
“The Virgin Money Group claim the principal reason for the closures is down to its digital banking drive.
“However, what happens to the people in our Island and Highland communities where internet reception is notoriously poor not to mention the difficulties which many people have in using mobile app technology?”
|Closing customer stores|
|Ashton-Under-Lyne||Keighley||Newcastle – Northumberland St|
|Beverley||Leeds, White Rose||Oban|
|East Kilbride, Princes Square||Musselburgh||Whitby|