HSBC said on Tuesday it plans to close 117 branches this year and will cut 380 roles in Britain to try to reduce costs.
The bank said about 180 jobs will be eliminated in the final round of branch network cuts, marking the end of its restructuring programme in Britain. Separately, the bank said it would cut a further 200 jobs in information technology which are being transferred to India, China and Poland, where people can perform the same role on lower salaries. The job cuts angered trades unions.
“Today is a dark day for hundreds of HSBC staff,” said Dominic Hook, a national officer at the Unite union. “Unite is deeply concerned that this large branch closure programme will be devastating not only for staff but also for the loyal HSBC customers.”
HSBC said the number of customers using branches for transactions has fallen by about 40 percent over the last five years, while the number of people making digital transactions has increased.
While banks argue the need to maintain extensive branch networks has fallen sharply, critics say local branches provide a vital service and that elderly and low income customers are hit hardest by closures as many do not have internet access. HSBC is shutting branches more quickly than other major British banks, with 321 closures since 2015, equating to about a quarter of its network, according to research by Britain’s largest consumer body Which? published last month.
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Reuters revealed last year that banks are disproportionately closing branches in the lowest-income areas while expanding in wealthier ones. The British Bankers’ Association announced on Tuesday a new plan that will allow more customers to do banking at the post office as lenders step up their closures. HSBC will have about 625 branches across Britain at the end of this year, down from from 965 branches at the end of 2016. (Reporting By Andrew MacAskill, editing by Anjuli Davies)