HSBC axes 62 branches in digital push

HSBC axes 62 branches in digital push

HSBC is to cut its number of high street branches by a further 62 locations during 2017 as part of an ongoing restructuring programme, putting 180 jobs at risk in the UK. 

The bank had already cut 800 IT positions last year and will also be axing 200 more this year as part of a cost-reduction plan announced in 2015 by the bank. The initiative will lead to the axing of 8,000 UK jobs in just over two and a half years.

A total of 340 branches have been closed during the period, cutting HSBC's physical retail sites by around a third. The company said it had no intentions to close any more branches after this latest round of cuts. 

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In a statement HSBC said: "HSBC has today announced the planned closure of 62 of its UK branches in 2017, which will bring the number of branches it has in the UK to 625 by the end of 2017. HSBC has no intention to close any further branches in 2017 and this marks the end of its branch restructuring programme." 

It said that the decision to close the branches reflect a change in the way customers bank, switching its digital platforms. 

The group said it was investing more than $1bn (£803m) in its digital channels to enhance its capabilities, a significant part of which is in the UK. It said that over the past five years, the number of customers using HSBC branches in Britain had fallen by almost 40 per cent.

Francesca McDonagh, HSBC head of retail banking and wealth management for UK and Europe, said: “The way our customers bank with us is changing. More customers are using mobile and internet banking than ever before. 

“The decision to close these branches ensures a more sustainable branch network for the future as we continue to invest in our digital platforms and our people. We will have fewer but better branches, with more empowered front line colleagues using a greater range of technology to support all our customers' needs."

HSBC said it would seek to redeploy "as many of the people impacted as possible" although it is expected these closures may result in up to 180 redundancies. 

Antonio Simoes, chief executive of HSBC Bank, said: “This marks the end of our branch restructuring programme. We now feel we have the right branch network that complements the other ways in which customers now choose to interact with us. We will continue to invest for the benefit of our customers as we build HSBC UK, a better bank for our people and customers.”

Dominic Hook, national officer at the Unite union, said: “Today is a dark day for hundreds of HSBC staff who will arrive at work to be  told  that they could lose their job as their branch closes or their IT role is cut." 

HSBC has said that the loss of passporting rights by leaving the single market through the Brexit would mean 1,000 jobs could be moved to Paris.