NatWest banks to close at Axminster, Sidmouth and Chard

PUBLISHED: 10:14 01 December 2017 | UPDATED: 15:34 01 December 2017

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Royal Bank of Scotland says the move reflects the public’s changing banking needs

The NatWest Bank branch in Axminster which is to close next year. Picture: CHRIS CARSONThe NatWest Bank branch in Axminster which is to close next year. Picture: CHRIS CARSON

Royal Bank of Scotland has today announced it is closing its Natwest branches at Axminster, Sidmouth and Chard.

The company says it has been forced to take the ‘difficult decsision’ to reflect the public’s changing banking needs.

NatWest Axminster will shut on May 30 next year, Chard on June 6 and Sidmouth on June 27.

An RBS spokesman said: “We provide our customers with more ways to bank than ever before – customers can choose from a range of digital, face-to-face and local options. The way people bank with us has changed radically over the last few years - since 2014, the number of customers using our branches across the UK has fallen by 40 per cent. During the same period mobile transactions have increased by 73 per cent and in the first half of 2017, there were 1.1 billion mobile and online transactions carried out by our customers, an increase of 41 per cent since 2014.

“Since 2012 we have seen the way in which people use these branches change dramatically, with now 85 per cent of NatWest Axminster customers and 82 per cent of NatWest Sidmouth customers already banking in other ways locally. In Chard, 84 per cent of customers are already banking in other ways locally.

“Transactions in NatWest Axminster branch have reduced by 13 per cent since 2012, with now only 57 customers visiting the branch on a weekly basis. Fifty-six per cent of customers are now choosing to bank digitally with us on a regular basis instead.

“Transactions in NatWest Chard branch have reduced by 32 per cent since 2012 with now only 61 customers visiting the branch on a weekly basis. Fifty-nine per cent of customers are now choosing to bank digitally with us on a regular basis instead.

“Transactions in NatWest Sidmouth branch have reduced by 27 per cent since 2012 with now only 67 customers visiting the branch on a weekly basis. 50% of customers are now choosing to bank digitally with us on a regular basis instead.

“We are communicating with our customers affected by the closure and proactively contacting vulnerable customers and regular branch users. We have extended the time between announcing our decision and the branch closure to six months. This has been done so that we can ensure our customers have enough time to consider the right banking options for them and to give us time to support them one-to-one during the transition.

“We are committed to ensuring our customers and communities are able to continue accessing quality banking services. As part of this, our new Community Banker provides customers with personal assistance and support to access our non-cash services, as well as help with achieving their financial plans and goals – replicating many of the services available in our branches. Our Community Bankers will get to know the local community, engage with local groups and provide training and education on issues such as fraud and scams protection in the local area.

“We know that not all of our customers are comfortable or familiar with using online or mobile banking, so we have created a new specialist taskforce of NatWest TechXperts who will be dedicated to supporting our customers with training and support with digital skills until the branches close.

“We are following the Access to Banking Standard and we have made our decision after careful consideration of a wide range of factors including changes in customer usage of the branches over a long period of time, how often customers are using the branches and the types of transactions they undertake, the number of customers who only bank via the branches and the other ways our customers can bank locally.

We provide a range of alternative ways to bank, tailored to the needs of our customers and reflective of the way they live their lives.

These include: online and mobile; telephony; video banking: Post Office; other branches - the nearest branch to Axminster and Sidmouth is Honiton which is 9.7 and 9.2 miles away respectively. The nearest branch to Chard is Ilminster, 5.2 miles away.

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