A non-major has announced it is closing more than two thirds of its east coast branches in order to prioritise its investment in its digital and broker/third-party offerings.
Bankwest said the closure of selected east coast branches was designed to meet changing customer needs.
Twenty-nine branches will close over a three-week period from 17 August, leaving the number of branches on the east coast at 14 key branches.
Impacted customers are being informed of the closures and will receive guidance on alternative banking options available to them by email, letters and store signage.
The lender said closures will affect about 200 staff members and will place a priority on supporting these people over the coming weeks.
The move is the latest step in the strategic refocus which Bankwest announced March 2017 to evolve and improve its offering to retail and small business customers nationwide.
Managing director Rowan Munchenberg said rapid changes in the digital space required Bankwest to make important decisions on where to invest to deliver great value for customers and grow nationally.
He said, “Many people still value face-to-face interactions, but customers increasingly expect seamless self-service options that allow them to do their banking when and where they choose.
“We’re seeing a consistent trend of customers choosing mobile banking over in-branch options for their transaction needs, with an 88 per cent rise in app logins over the past three years.
“So, we’re transforming our organisation to respond more rapidly to these changing customer needs by adopting new ways of working and embracing new technologies.
“But we know we can’t match the major banks’ nation-wide footprint and also deliver world class digital services, so we will prioritise digital channels and broker relationships.
“This change does not impact Western Australia, where our strong brand and established footprint enables us to maintain highly competitive branch and digital offerings.”
Munchenberg said the change had been a difficult decision, given a significant number of east coast colleagues would be affected.
He said, “We will work with and support impacted colleagues in the coming weeks, doing what we can to help them identify other opportunities, be they within or outside of the Group.
“We are writing to affected customers to outline options, such as using Australia Post’s Bank@Post services and, for business customers, taking advantage of CBA branches.
“Ultimately, this change means we can provide better services to more customers in the future.”
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