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Death knell for high street banks as they announce raft of closures | City & Business | Finance

On Friday, Royal Bank of Scotland said that it is to close 259 branches, around a quarter of its network, leaving it with 744 RBS and NatWest sites. 

It means the bank, which is 72 per cent owned by the taxpayer, has announced the closure of 690 branches since the start of 2015, the watchdog said. 

In second place is HSBC, which has cut 438 branches, followed by Lloyds Banking Group, which has said that it will close or has closed at least 375 Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland sites. 

Barclays is in fourth position with 200 closures and Co-op Bank fifth, having cut 127 locations. Santander has shut 123 branches over the same period. 

However, Investec banks analyst Ian Gordon warned that Lloyds may indicate that it will accelerate its branch closure programme when it publishes its full-year results and strategy update on February 21: “I do wonder if they [Lloyds’ management] will do something at their strategy day in February. 

“One of the reasons it has been slower than others to close branches is its multi-brand strategy, where you have a Lloyds close to a Halifax on the same street, but Lloyds still has the bulk [of its closures] ahead of it.” 

Banks are closing costly branches to save money, as the shift towards mobile and online banking has left some sites serving just a handful of people a day.

However, this has left a number of communities fearing that they will be left without a bank. 

Which? money expert Gareth Shaw said: “With bank branch closures gathering pace it is vital that banks ensure all customers have access to vital everyday banking services, no matter where they live.” 

Lloyds said it is reshaping its branch network to meet changing customer needs.

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