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UK banks considering trimming their expenses by closing branches

July 6, 2011‐ London, UK

The economic downturn has undoubtedly changed the way businesses work. And banks have chosen the toughest path in a bit to cut down costs - to shut down branches.

Royal Bank of Scotland is at the forefront of the list with an announcement that it will close 55 branches this year. HSBC is closing 36 branches to bring down its branch count to 1311. It may be recalled HSBC has closed 21 branches in the first half of 2011 and is on the course of closing 15 more. The bank has closed 50 branches last year.

Barclays is a little behind them after it closed 22 branches in the first quarter. The bank is also considering closing few more branches if need be.

Even the mighty Lloyds Banking Group is seriously considering trimming its branches network. The group is likely to close 632 branches of its 2900 branches, thanks to the EU mandate directing it to sell a part of its business. The group has recently decided to cut its staff by 15,000 (14% of its workforce) so as to save about 1.5 billion pounds annually by 2014. The bank reported having cut 27,000 jobs after its merger with HBOS in 2009.

Santander is going to acquire 318 RBS branches in 2012 and by doing so it might be having 107 locations where it will have three branches close to each other. This happened because of the acquisitions Santander did in the past. Santander used the banking crisis as an opportunity to go ahead and buy banks. It bought branches of Abbey National in 2004, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley in 2008. After the acquisition of RBS branches, Santander branch network will reach 1700.

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