You couldn’t make this stuff up even if you tried.
On a recent teleconference, Carol Anderson, Director of Branch Banking, admitted that many of the 70 branches which will close next year will be refurbished first and then closed. She said TSB couldn’t get out of the refurbishment contracts. This slip of the tongue implies that the decision to close branches was made at the last minute by TSB and was not part of some long-term plan.
So, why is TSB really closing 70 branches now?
There is speculation, picked up in some of the newspaper coverage of the bank’s announcement, that the main banks are going to announce large scale branch closure programmes before the Government publishes the results of its consultation on the legal right of customers to access cash within a reasonable travelling distance of where they live. The thinking seems to be it is better to announce branch closures now, and get them done with quickly, before any legislation is passed by Parliament.
But we think the real reason for the closures is because TSB’s stuttering performance is holding back the sale of the business. And in the absence of a growing business, the only thing TSB can control is its costs, which is why it’s closing more branches. For TSB it’s the only game in town.
TSB is having difficulties growing many parts of its business The biggest growth area has been mortgages but that is set to slow down after the government withdrew the stamp duty tax break. Gross mortgage lending across the whole industry tumbled to £19.3 billion in October from £30.7 billion in September. TSB is also losing current account customers. According to the latest set of figures from CASS – the Current Account Switch Service – 212,600 bank customers switched accounts between July and September 2021. TSB had the third highest losses as 12,769 customers left the bank and only 3,278 joined, leaving it with a net loss of 9,491. The biggest winners were Halifax and Sterling Bank which had net gains of 16,684 and 13,720 respectively. Even Lloyds managed net customer gains.
Time is running out for Mrs Crosbie, literally because she’s off to the Nationwide, and death by a thousand cuts is not going to turn TSB around. TSB staff deserve better.
Members with any questions on this Newsletter can contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 716029 (Choose Option 1).