Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has said that it will close 54 branches in England and Wales in January 2019, resulting in the loss of around 258 jobs.
RBS said that the decision was taken after reviewing its branch network in the two regions.
It comes in the wake of the decision to reintegrate the Royal Bank of Scotland network into the core RBS bank with the sale of the business not being pursued anymore.
Earlier, the Royal Bank of Scotland in England & Wales and NatWest retail banking business in Scotland were planned to be sold by the banking group and launched as an independent ‘challenger bank’ branded as Williams & Glyn.
However, Royal Bank of Scotland had dropped its plans of the sale and as a result the Williams & Glyn business, including its branch network, is being reintegrated again into the core bank.
In addition to that, Royal Bank of Scotland said that customers have been turning away from the traditional branch counter service with branch transactions across Royal Bank of Scotland in England & Wales going down by 30% since 2014.
In contrast, it said that a 53% increase has been recorded in the number of customers using mobile banking while mobile transactions have gone up by 74%.
An RBS spokesperson said: “As we are no longer launching Williams & Glyn as a challenger bank we now have two branch networks operating in close proximity to each other in England and Wales – NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland.
“As a result we have reviewed our overall branch footprint in England and Wales and have made the difficult decision to close 54 Royal Bank of Scotland branches. Customers of Royal Bank of Scotland in England and Wales will be able to use NatWest branches and local post offices for their everyday banking needs.”
The latest announcement from Royal Bank of Scotland follows a decision made by it in April to shutter 162 branches in England and Wales this summer, leading to about 800 job cuts.
Trade union Unite has expressed disgust at the decision taken by the banking group, which is owned 62.4% by the British government.
Unite national officer Rob MacGregor said: “It is utterly disgusting that Royal Bank of Scotland has the audacity to announce that yet more important local bank branches will permanently close their doors.
“This announcement heaps further misery on communities across England and Wales that have already seen the demise of local banking services as branches that were signposted by the bank earlier in 2018 as an alternative for customers whose branches were closing, now suffering a similar fate.”