The Nottingham to close estate agency and merge branches putting jobs at risk

Up to 120 jobs are at risk at The Nottingham Building Society after the company revealed plans to close its estate agency and lettings operations and merge branches.

The Nottingham is to enter into an agreement with Grantham-headquartered Belvoir Group, in a move which will see the Society deliver estate agency and lettings services to its members through Belvoir’s network of franchisees trading under the brands Belvoir, Northwood, Newton Fallowell and Lovelle.

The “vast majority” of the Society’s estate agency and lettings activity will transfer over to the Belvoir Group and it will cease trading as its own estate agency and lettings operation for new business by the end of August.

This will mean the closure of three standalone estate agency branches and three combined building society and estate agency branches which are more focused on estate agency at the end of July, as well as impacting a number of field based and central support roles. The proposed branch locations for closure are: Enderby; Syston; Western Park; Market Harborough; Chatteris; and Wisbech.

The Nottingham says it has assured its members that where a branch closure is taking place, the nearest replacement building society branch that services will be merged with will be no more than five miles away. Whilst most of the locations affected are in the Greater Nottingham, area, following these changes the Society says it will still have eight branches within a five mile radius of its Nottingham head office.

The Society is proposing to take its branch network to 48 with the merger of eight branches that have a partner branch in “very close proximity” and in locations where current branch presence is high. Those are: Wollaton Park; Firth Park; Carlton Hill; Groby; Netherfield; Sherwood; Ruddington; and Harpenden. The Society is also proposing to close its Huntingdon branch as there isn’t a suitable local branch for it to merge with.

The branch mergers will take place in Q4 of this year, says The Nottingham.

Chief executive of The Nottingham, David Marlow, said; “After great consideration, we believe the model in our members’ best interest and for the long term success and sustainability of the Society is to deliver an estate agency and lettings proposition through an expert partner. We already successfully use this approach for a number of services delivered to members and the strategic alliance we are undertaking with the Belvoir Group not only provides a continuation of service to the majority of our members,
but brings greater opportunities to work closely together to boost the reach of our combined national networks.

“Whilst the transfer of our operations to the Belvoir Group marks the end of an era of us being our own estate agency, we’re confident it’s a positive move for the Society and our members.”

Dorian Gonsalves, chief executive officer of the Belvoir Group said: “This is an exciting and mutually beneficial opportunity for both companies. Similar to the Nottingham, Belvoir originated in the East Midlands, and our central office is still based in Grantham. Furthermore, Belvoir and The Nottingham share the same ethos of ensuring that the customer is always at the centre of everything within the business.

“This strategic alliance allows our Group brands, which consist of Belvoir, Newton Fallowell, Northwood and Lovelle, to provide all Nottingham members with a seamless estate agency service, either from our shared or stand-alone locations throughout the UK. This alliance also enables our franchisees to open in new locations, further increasing the Group’s footprint.”

Marlow added: “Like many other businesses, As a consequence of the pandemic we have seen consumer behaviour changing significantly with members increasingly looking to manage their finances through digital channels, which has become essential for some during the pandemic. We are in a very different place to where we were a few years ago and post-pandemic we don’t anticipate that every member will revert back to using branches as they did before. In addition to this, we know that younger customers favour a digital solution.

“To stay relevant and grow our membership we must adapt and change the way we deliver our purpose of helping our members save for, plan and protect their financial futures, whilst reflecting how our members live and what they expect from us now and for years ahead.

“We remain absolutely committed to our branch network and we genuinely believe that branches continue to have a key role on the high street to support our members – that is why we continue to have a significantly larger branch network for a building society of our size, even after these changes. We will be investing in improvements in the newly merged branches, as well as implementing new working practices, such as new opening hours, to improve the member experience”.

“In total the proposed changes will affect around 120 roles and we have spoken personally to team members affected. Whilst we will seek to offer redeployment opportunities from across the society and choice to impacted team members wherever we can it is inevitable that there will not be roles for everyone impacted and are therefore offering job support packages where people do leave the business.”

A spokesperson for the Nottingham said: “It’s too soon to know at this time how many of those will leave the business as we’re still in the consultation process and working with those affected to explore redeployment opportunities across the Society.”