Newcastle Permanent plans to reinvest millions into refurbishing eight existing branches, following the news three outlets will shut their doors next month.
CEO Bernadette Inglis outlined a number of changes on Tuesday 16 February, including the announcement of a major upgrade program for its network, starting with Wallsend, Raymond Terrace and Gosford.
Other modifications comprise the closure of Medowie, Fletcher and Woy Woy on Friday 26 March, as well as a variation in hours for nine regional NSW sites.
Later in 2021, Newcastle Permanent will launch its new flagship “Branch of the Future” design at Newcastle Mall.
“The banking preferences and demands of our customers have evolved at an accelerated pace over the past 12 months,” Ms Inglis said.
“So, we’re implementing the changes to deliver a modernised, fit-for-purpose design to meet their needs.
“Medowie, Fletcher and Woy Woy all have expiring leases and, unfortunately, witnessed a near 30% – or more – decline in branch use in the past five years.
“However, the staff will be redeployed to nearby outlets.
“These changes are a realignment and adjust our valuable Newcastle Permanent resources from one area of our business to another, aligning our investment to better serve the changing home lending and digital banking requirements of our customers.”
Ms Inglis said their branches would remain a critical part of the future.
“We are undertaking a multi-million dollar investment program that better supports our customers,” she explained.
“Our Wallsend, Raymond Terrace and Gosford branches will be among the first across our footprint to undergo redevelopment.
“Today, we’re seeing more reliance on digital banking services, increased digital confidence, and less use of cash and branch interactions from our customers.
“And, we’ll continue to assess and reshape our network.
“Through closing these branches, and realigning operating hours at others, we will be able to redirect investment in the coming years.
“But, even after this change, we’ll have the largest branch network in the Hunter region.”
Ms Inglis added Newcastle Permanent’s 118-year history did not come through “standing still”.
“Across our network, less than 5% of customer transactions are completed in a branch,” she said.
“This is a drop of 15% year-on-year as they move towards digital banking.
“In contrast, more than 90% of all transactions are now completed digitally or electronically.
“We’ll continue to adapt our business to deliver the banking services our customers want today and will need in the future.”
From late March, operating hours at nine branches – Dubbo, Lismore, Orange, Grafton, Ballina, Bathurst, Mudgee, Armidale and Muswellbrook – will vary from 9am to 1.30pm to reflect customer usage patterns at these locations.
“There’ll be no impact to employee hours of work as a result of these changes,” Ms Inglis said.
“Employees [in these branches] will spend the remainder of their work day remotely servicing other banking needs for our customers.”