Lloyds Bank: More Than 200 Branches To Close

Lloyds Bank: More Than 200 Branches To Close

Britain's biggest retail bank will set out plans next week to close more than 200 branches under a blueprint that will also see 9,000 jobs disappear.

Sky News understands that Lloyds Banking Group will say that a significant minority of its 2,250 branches across the UK will be shut by the end of 2017, ending a three-year moratorium on such closures.

The focus of the axe will be on urban centres where there are already multiple branches under Lloyds' individual brands operating in close proximity, according to one source.

Lloyds has roughly 1,300 branches under its own name, 670 as Halifax and 290 using the Bank of Scotland brand.

While the issue of bank branch closures is a sensitive one, Lloyds hopes that it will escape widespread criticism because its plans will not, for example, leave rural communities without access to their existing nearest branch.

Lloyds has already offloaded more than 630 branches as part of a state aid settlement with Brussels which resulted in TSB being spun out as an independent high street bank.

Adding a further 200 to that figure would mean that approximately 30% of the group's branches would have been offloaded or closed since the merger of Lloyds TSB and HBOS during the 2008 financial crisis.

Insiders said that Lloyds, which is 25%-owned by taxpayers, would also open some new branches during the next three years, with the exact net closures figure unclear this weekend.

The group would continue to operate the UK's largest branch network even after the plans are implemented, the source added.

People close to the situation pointed out that Lloyds was trying to be transparent by outlining a formal branch closures number, while some rival banks had been closing small numbers of branches on a regular basis but without making public announcements about their actions.

The plans, which will be presented to the City by Antonio Horta-Osorio, Lloyds' chief executive, will demonstrate the bank's vision for automating its customer-facing operations during a period when digital banking is forecast to continue its explosive growth rate.

Sky News revealed during the week that the revised strategy would trigger around 9,000 job losses .

Earlier this year, the British Bankers' Association (BBA) published research showing that UK-based customers conducted almost 40 million mobile and internet banking transactions each week in 2013, a huge increase on the previous year.

The job cuts at Lloyds, which employs roughly 80,000 people, will be on a smaller scale than the cull which has taken place since the merger of Lloyds TSB and HBOS.

Since then, tens of thousands of jobs have been axed at the combined group, and at rivals including Barclays, HSBC and the state-backed Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

It was unclear on Wednesday how many of the 9,000 roles affected would be in branches and how many in support roles at, for example, call centres.

The strategy update, which will be unveiled alongside results for the third quarter of 2014, is unlikely to include details of a return to the dividend list, with Lloyds expected to have to wait for the outcome of a Bank of England stress test in mid-December.

A spokesman for Lloyds declined to comment.

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