Co-op Bank announces plans to axe 350 jobs and close 18 branches

Andrew Bester

The Manchester-based Co-operative Bank has today announced proposals to reduce around 350 roles, including the closure of 18 branches.

Aside from the specific branches affected, the reduction is expected to focus on middle management positions and head office roles.

The bank said it has spoken to affected colleagues and is currently consulting with colleagues and its recognised trades union on the proposals.

Where possible, the bank said it will look to redeploy colleagues into alternative posts.

Co-operative Bank chief executive, Andrew Bester said: “Our people have shown great dedication and commitment to our customers over the past few months, so we are very sorry to announce this news today.

“Unfortunately, we’re not immune to the impact of recent events, with the historically low base rate affecting the income of all banks and a period of prolonged economic uncertainty ahead, which means it’s important we reduce costs and have the right-sized operating model in place for the future.

“At the same time, we are responding to the continuing shift of more and more customers choosing to bank online, with lower levels of transactions in branches, a trend which has been increasing for some time, across the banking sector and more broadly.”

He added: “The bank is in a resilient position given the significant progress we’ve made in recent years, and our focus is on maintaining this as we continue to support our customers through the crisis.

“We will do all we can to support colleagues through the process with fairness and respect.”

The planned branch closures, which are expected to be completed by December 1, 2020, have been selected following careful analysis of individual branch footfall over a 12-month period – January-December 2019 – prior to the start of lockdown.

The bank said it is committed to continuing to provide the high-quality service it knows is important to its customers.

It is currently writing to affected customers to provide information about the alternative options available to them, including Post Office counter services, telephone, online and mobile banking.

The 18 branches proposed for closure are: Ashton, Bradford, Cambridge, Chatham, Chester, Chichester, City of London, Dartford, Halesowen, Harrogate, Luton, Oxford, Rotherham, Solihull, Truro, Wakefield, Walsall, York.