ANOTHER bank (Woodley HSBC) is pulling out of Woodley’s town centre as part of a restructuring operation.
The bank said that after running a pilot scheme, it is ‘evolving’ its branch network by closing 82 branches this year, as customers make more use of online services.
It says that customers can use Post Office branches for day-to-day transactions, or visit branches in Wokingham or Reading.
The company’s new branch formats are a full-service branch, a cash service branch which can help with issues such as bereavements.
The digital service branches are counterless branches that utilise machines for transactions such as cash and cheques.
And it will also offer pop-up branches later this year.
“Giving more and better options to enable customers to manage their finances, including self-service, has uncovered a latent demand. The direction of travel is really quite clear and this is borne out by the reduction in branch usage and increase in digital interaction that we are seeing first-hand,” said Jackie Uhi, HSBC UK’s Head of Network.
She added that Covid-19 had emphasised the need for change, but hadn’t pushed the banking giant into this direction.
“Making sure we have a sustainable branch network is essential to us, and decisions to close branches are not taken lightly,” she said.
“By ensuring we have the most suitable branch format in each specific local market that we serve, we will ensure that we are in good shape to meet the challenges ahead.”
It’s not all bad news for banking in Woodley.
Last November, Nationwide reaffirmed its promise to keep its branch network open until at least January 2023.
Mandy Beech, Branch Network Director of Nationwide Building Society, said: “We’re ensuring our members can go into their local branch and see their branch manager and speak to someone they know and trust, whenever they need to.
“By extending our branch promise until at least January 2023 we can continue to provide face-to-face help and advice and remain a part of so many communities across the UK.”
Barclays also remains open, but with reduced hours. It is open 9.30am to 2pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
Barclays is also intending to continue to serve Woodley residents.
A spokesperson said: “There are no current plans to close Barclays Woodley branch.
“That said, our branch opening hours and presence on the high street is constantly being reviewed to reflect how and when our customers are choosing to interact with us.
“As customer behaviour continues to change we must evolve our business to meet their needs, as such, we are not able to speculate on any future change in relation to our branch opening hours or branch network.”
Woodley Town Centre manager Brian Fennelly said: “Most banks have had strategic plans in place for years to move away from the High Street to Online. The HSBC closure is clearly part of that plan but the decision will not be appreciated by their customers.
“The covid crisis has had and I fear will continue to have a devastating effect on town centres the length and breadth of Britain.
“Clearly HSBC has decided that this makes commercial sense, but it is very disappointing news for Woodley.”