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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 May, 2005, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
Clydesdale to close 60 branches
Clydesdale Bank branch
Newmilns in Ayrshire is one of Clydesdale branches to close
The owners of the Clydesdale Bank are to close more than a quarter of its branches across Scotland.

The move by National Australia Bank (NAB) will see 60 of the Clydesdale's 217 branches close in mainly rural areas.

The Glasgow-based company is currently the only bank in more than 30 communities across Scotland.

Details of which branches are to close were released by NAB on Wednesday with more names to follow in the future.

NAB has already said about 750 jobs will be axed at the bank as part of the 117m cost-cutting programme.

The closures announcement was made as NAB, Australia's biggest bank by assets, reported a 12.5% drop in first-half cash earnings.

Clydesdale branch closures
Alexandria
Anstruther
Dunlop (Ayrshire)
Glasgow Calton and Bridgeton
Glasgow Dennistoun
Glasgow Govan
Glasgow Pollokshields
Inverkeithing
Kincardine-on-Forth
Larbert
Newmilns
Stewarton
Strathaven
Tayport

As a result of the losses, NAB is looking to trim about 4,200 staff from its Australian and UK operations, or about 10% of the workforce.

Clydesdale has said no compulsory redundancies will be forced upon its staff with those affected relocated to other areas.

The bank's chief operating officer David Thorburn said research had shown that 75% of its customers no longer used their local branch.

He said: "There are a handful of closures that we'll announce today that are what we call last banks in town.

"However, last autumn we tied up an alliance with the Post Office that allows Clydesdale Bank customers access to over 1,000 post offices in Scotland.

"In every location we are closing there is a Post Office, typically within a few hundred yards of that branch.

"It's typically open longer hours than that branch and our customers have free access to that.

I'm very concerned the closures will form a major signal to the banking industry at large where somebody starts and the others follow
Derek French
Campaign for Community Banking Services

"The traffic through these branches has fallen away very significantly over the last few years and that's actually picked up pace considerably since our tie-up with the Post Office.

"If you like, our customers are voting with their feet here, they are using other channels other than these local branches."

Mr Thorburn added that many of the branches set for closure were very small with an average of 2,800 customers each.

This made them unviable in comparison to the bank's larger branches, which dealt with a typical customer base of 10,000 customers.

Copycat fears

Derek French, of the Campaign for Community Banking Services, said: "I'm very concerned the closures will form a major signal to the banking industry at large where somebody starts and the others follow.

"Nobody wants to be the first to go but Clydesdale have decided for their own reasons that they have to be the first this time and there is a definite domino effect.

"I think this liaison between Clydesdale and Post Office will work quite well but where we would be wrong is in drawing any conclusions that this is a solution to balance closures - it isn't."

National Australia Bank branch
NAB's cuts are also proving controversial in its Australian home

The Amicus union said it would put pressure on NAB to review its proposals as they would wield a serious blow to its rural customers.

It also vowed to contest any "last bank in town" branch closures with plans to lobby local MPs and MSPs in a bid to help save some branches.

Scottish national officer Mary Alexander said: "The bank has reneged on its promise not to close the last branch in town in several communities.

"We will continue to put pressure on NAB to review this drastic programme of cuts and ensure that staff that are misplaced are treated fairly".

Rival commitment

In light of Clydesdale's announcement, Lloyds TSB Scotland Bank said it was committed to keeping its 185 branches open across Scotland.

The bank's retail network director Mike Jones said: "Even those customers who use our internet or telephone services for the majority of their business still value the ability to deal with our staff personally at a local branch whenever they so wish.

"Our commitment to personal service in the local community continues."

NAB also owns Yorkshire Bank and outlined plans to close a fifth of is branches in England.

However, the Australian parent company has said it plans to expand its operations in the south east of England.

The cuts are also proving controversial Down Under where Australian Treasurer Peter Costello said he wanted a "good explanation" for the move by NAB.

Speaking about the planned job losses on national radio, Mr Costello said that the bank "better have a pretty good explanation because the NAB is a highly profitable organisation".





SEE ALSO:
Town's last bank makes withdrawal
11 May 05 |  Scotland
Bank to shut down 100 UK branches
11 May 05 |  Business
Union call over bank job losses
30 Mar 05 |  Scotland
Two UK banks to shed 1,700 jobs
30 Mar 05 |  Business
NAB profits tumble after scandal
10 Nov 04 |  Business


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