Five more banks in the Borders are facing an uncertain future now TSB has announced proposals to scrap almost a sixth of its branch network.
The Edinburgh-based bank plans to shut a further 82 of its 540 branches nationwide, 150 of them in Scotland, next year, on top of four already earmarked for closure.
It won’t be revealing which branches are facing the axe until this Thursday, November 28, but question marks are hanging over the futures of at least some of the five it runs in the Borders as all but one now operate only on a part-time basis.
The TSB in Channel Street in Galashiels is the only one left in the region still opening from 9am to 5pm on weekdays.
The bank’s Hawick High Street branch had its opening days cut from five to three a week in July, sparking fears for its future, and its Kelso Square branch also only opens three days a week.
TSB’s other two branches in the Borders, in Jedburgh’s Canongate and Peebles High Street, only open two days a week and, even then, are shut at lunchtimes.
The planned branch closures will affect up to 400 staff, but the bank has promised to offer new jobs to as many of them as possible.
Announcing the branch closures, chief executive Debbie Crosbie said: “Our new strategy positions TSB to succeed in a challenging external environment at a time when we know customers want something different and better from their bank.
“With a trusted brand, modern platform and national presence, TSB is well placed to deliver – but we need to make changes to enable us to compete.
“The plan we’re sharing involves some difficult decisions, but it sets TSB up to succeed in the future.
“Taken together, these changes will help us to serve more customers, better, for the long term.”
The forthcoming closures, announced as part of a three-year strategy intended to set the bank up to aim for an annual profit target of £130m-plus, might well be followed by others as Ms Crosbie refused to offer any guarantees on the future of the 454 branches expected to be left by the end of 2020.
The future of those branches not shut as part of next year’s cull would be kept under continual review, she said, adding: “I’m not ruling anything in and I’m not ruling anything out.”
Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall was among those to express fears for the future of his home-town’s branch after it was revealed in April that it would no longer open five days a week, and he remains worried that that move might turn out to be a precursor for a full closure.
“I am deeply concerned by the latest announcement to axe more branches of the TSB and, like many townsfolk, I am keeping everything crossed that our town is spared from this latest bombshell,” he said.
“One can’t help but feel for the staff caught up in all of this uncertainty, and to lose the Hawick branch would leave our town with only two banks serving our High Street, which is, in my mind, very alarming indeed.
The building alone is steeped in history, having been the former Hawick Savings Bank since 1887 and renamed in 1971 as the Trustee Savings Bank.
“Recently, it has been operating a much-reduced service.”