Branch closures are always difficult and that is especially true in some smaller communities. In the last round of closures we doubled the notice period to six months in advance of a closure, to give more time for customers and communities to review how they bank and get used to alternatives.
Over that period we had a lot of feedback around 10 branches in particular, mainly those that were the last bank in a town and more than 9 miles from the next nearest Royal Bank branch.
On the back of this feedback, the Bank commissioned Johnston Carmichael to review our decisions – and make a clear recommendation one way or the other about keeping them open or closing them.
This was an independent review and Johnston Carmichael set their own scope and approach. They visited and spoke to customers and local communities in the ten locations, as well as MPs, MSPs, councillors and a number of different organisations representing customer and consumer groups across Scotland.
In their judgement, they have recommended that we keep open two of the ten branches – Biggar and Barra. We accept this recommendation and these branches are no longer scheduled for closure. The remaining eight branches will be closed as planned. Johnston Carmichael also made a number of other recommendations about how we might enhance things already in place in some of the other locations – and we accept these in full as well.
Simon Watson, Managing Director of Personal Banking at Royal Bank of Scotland, said:
“We would like to thank Johnston Carmichael for their review of 10 Royal Bank branches in Scotland that were due to close, but faced exceptional circumstances.
“Johnston Carmichael have judged that in their view, the branches in Biggar and Barra should remain open – so they will. We also note the further recommendations for enhancements that can be made in six of the branch locations and can confirm we will be accepting these recommendations in full.
“The report highlights the difficult nature of branch closure decisions. We know branches are important to many communities, but equally we know that fewer and fewer people are using them as more people bank online. In every case of a branch closing we are committed to providing the best possible range of banking alternatives, including mobile branches, banking in the local post office, community bankers and remote services such as telephone banking.
“With today’s report, we are able to say for the first time with certainty that there will be no further reviews of our branch network in the immediate future – until at least 2020.”
Royal Bank of Scotland will continue to work with communities, customers, elected representatives and other stakeholders to ensure all our customers understand the changes and the alternative ways to bank available to them.