Following a review of the Royal Bank of Scotland branch network in England and Wales, a decision has been taken to close 54 Royal Bank branches in January 2019. The review was undertaken as a consequence of the Royal Bank of Scotland network being reintegrated back into the core RBS bank now that the divestment of the business is no longer taking place.
We are now in a position where the size and shape of our branch network across NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland will be stable until at least 2020.
We expect these branch closures to result in around 258 roles being made redundant. We realise this is difficult news for our colleagues and we are doing everything we can to support those affected. We will ensure compulsory redundancies are kept to an absolute minimum.
The Royal Bank of Scotland in England & Wales and NatWest retail banking business in Scotland was due to be divested and launched as a separate ‘challenger bank’, under the brand name, Williams & Glyn. Although part of the RBS Group, this network operated with a different strategy and with different products and services for customers, with the intention that it would become a completely separate bank. This divestment is now not going ahead so the Williams & Glyn business, including its branch network, are being reintegrated back into the core bank.
The Royal Bank of Scotland retail banking business in England & Wales has essentially been run as a standalone bank for around eight years and this status as a ‘business-for-sale’ meant that it diverged in a number ways from the customer offerings, products, services, branch automation and online banking capabilities of the core bank.
The vast majority of impacted Royal Bank of Scotland branches in England & Wales are in close proximity to either another Royal Bank of Scotland or NatWest branch.
An RBS spokesperson said:
“As we are no longer launching Williams & Glyn as a challenger bank we now have two branch networks operating in close proximity to each other in England and Wales – NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland. As a result we have reviewed our overall branch footprint in England and Wales and have made the difficult decision to close 54 Royal Bank of Scotland branches. Customers of Royal Bank of Scotland in England and Wales will be able to use NatWest branches and local post offices for their everyday banking needs. We will now focus on investing in our Royal Bank network in England and Wales to make sure customers have a consistent range of products and services wherever they bank, be it Scotland, England or Wales.”
The way customers bank with us has changed radically over the last few years. Since 2014, branch transactions across Royal Bank of Scotland in England & Wales are down 30%. During this same period, there has been a 53% increase in the number of customers using mobile banking and mobile transactions have increased by 74%. We now provide our customers with more ways to bank with us than ever before – customers can choose from a range of digital, face-to-face and local options to suit their needs.
We are committed to ensuring our customers and communities are able to continue accessing quality banking services. We are writing to customers of affected branches to highlight the alternative ways to bank in their area. Royal Bank of Scotland customers can now use NatWest branches for their everyday banking, such as withdrawing cash, checking balances or paying in (and vice versa). Additionally, personal and business customers will be able to access a range of services at either a Royal Bank of Scotland or NatWest branch, including payments, international services, account detail changes and mandates. In order to support our Royal Bank of Scotland customers with these services and their banking needs, we will have RBS colleagues in NatWest branches to offer assistance. We know that not all of our customers are comfortable or familiar with using online or mobile banking, so we have a specialist taskforce of TechXperts who will be dedicated to supporting our customers with training and support with digital skills.