Nationwide unveils branch plan after Virgin merger and says 'promise'

Nationwide Building Society has made a pledge to its new customers after a major merger. It has pledged to maintain its high street presence in the UK, and this commitment will now encompass Virgin Money branches as well.

The promise comes at a time when the UK has witnessed a staggering 6,000 bank branch closures since 2015. Despite these figures, Nationwide is among the handful of financial institutions vowing not to shutter its branches or at least sustain its physical services.

In line with fighting the trend of branch closures in recent years, it appears that Virgin Money will be another ally alongside Nationwide in keeping numerous branches accessible to the public.

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Earlier in the year, Nationwide made headlines when it acquired the bank for an impressive £2.9 billion. The agreement was publicised by both parties as being beneficial for their customers, promising to "deliver greater value".

Further enhancing its customer offering, Nationwide extended its "Branch Promise" to early 2028, representing a significant win for loyal clients of the building society.

This guarantee signifies that over the next two years, the institution will not abandon any UK town or city where it presently operates.

Through a statement shared with the public, the building society reaffirmed its "Branch Promise" and shed light on how existing Virgin Money sites might face changes in the upcoming years.

Nationwide confidently stated: "We have extended our Branch Promise by two years, meaning everywhere we have a Nationwide branch, we promise to still be there until at least the start of 2028.

"Over time, we will add Virgin Money's branches to our existing network of more than 600 Nationwide branches. In the meantime, we have extended our Branch Promise to Virgin Money's existing branches.

"Even where we have a Nationwide branch and a Virgin Money branch close by, we promise to keep them both open until at least the start of 2028."

In response to the deal, over 4,700 individuals have signed a petition urging the building society to allow its members to vote on the decision to acquire Virgin Money.

The petition suggests that there is "no guarantee" that current and future customers will benefit "in any way".

Nationwide has provided an update, stating that the £2.9 billion deal will enable the country's second largest building society to offer "better mortgages and savings rates".

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the UK's competition watchdog, has initiated an investigation into the merger, which would be the largest in the banking sector since the Great Recession.

Approximately 90 per cent of Virgin Money shareholders who voted were in favour of the deal, while Nationwide members were not given the opportunity to voice their opinion on the merger.

At present, the CMA has set a deadline of 26 July for its initial decision on whether to proceed with a formal investigation.