HSBC to close South Shields branch in Fowler Street as part of planned national closure programme
Staff at a South Shields bank are facing an anxious wait after HSBC announced its Fowler Street branch is among 114 due to close in 2023.
The firm has said around 100 staff could leave the bank nationally as a result of plans to axe 114 UK branches from April next year.
The South Shields branch is due to close on June 13.
The closure news comes amid growing concern for high streets, with many taking a battering.
As with other town centres, South Shields has seen a number of chains pulling out over the past ten years amid a decline in the retail sector in favour of online shopping, with the Covid-19 pandemic and gloomy financial times only adding to high street woes.
The Whitley Bay branch is also on the list of closures, due to shut its doors for good on May 2.
HSBC said it has seen a substantial decline in customers coming into its branches over the last five years, but especially since the pandemic.
Some of the branches closing are currently serving fewer that 250 customers a week, it said.
HSBC stressed that it hopes to redeploy all its employees at affected locations to other roles within HSBC, either to other branches or to a different position.
The company said it plans to speak to all staff in those due to close but it estimates that around 100 employees could lose their jobs.
The group will be investing tens of millions of pounds in updating and improving its existing UK branch network, which will total 327 after the new wave of closures, it said.
It is also developing new “banking hubs” and community pop-ups in its shake-up of the network and plugging more investment into digital banking services.
Furthermore, since 2021 it has provided 1,500 free Samsung tablet devices to customers selected by local branches who cannot afford or have no access to equipment to help with digital banking, HSBC said.
Jackie Uhi, HSBC UK’s managing director of UK distribution, said: “People are changing the way they bank and footfall in many branches is at an all-time low, with no signs of it returning. Banking remotely is becoming the norm for the vast majority of us.
“Branches will continue to play an important role in day-to-day banking, while providing specialist face-to-face support in moments that matter.
“In addition to our branch network, customers can access services through the Post Office network, our community pop-ups and soon-to-come banking hubs, alongside Live Chat, social media and through telephone banking.
“The decision to close a branch is never easy or taken lightly, especially if we are the last branch in an area, so we’ve invested heavily in our ‘post closure’ strategy, including providing free tablet devices to selected branch customers who do not already have a device to bank digitally, alongside one-to-one coaching to help them migrate to digital banking.”
Earlier this year, HSBC said it was closing 69 more branches which was expected to hit around 400 workers.