Virgin Money: Union brand Stenhousemuir branch closure 'shameful'

The decision by Virgin Money to axe 12 branches in Scotland – including a bank in Stenhousemuir – has been described as “shameful” by Unite the union.

By James Trimble
Friday, 1st October 2021, 8:52 am
Updated Friday, 1st October 2021, 8:52 am

Unite stated the “axe will fall the hardest” in Scotland, as remote island and rural communities, and town centres are set to be “left behind” by Virgin Money.

Along with the former Clydesdale Bank in Hallam Road, Stenhousemuir, the branches in Scotland earmarked for closure are Airdrie, Banchory, Broughty Ferry, Cumbernauld, East Kilbride, Galashiels, Milngavie, Musselburgh, Oban, Portree and Wick.

It is estimated around 76 employees in Scotland are likely to be made redundant due to branch location, and the lack of suitable transfer alternatives nearby.

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The Virgin Money branch in Hallam Road, Stenhousemuir

The proposed closures come as the Virgin Group is completing the process of rebranding the former Clydesdale branches with new signs alongside the mobile banking app.

In 2018, Virgin Money acquired the Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank Group (CYBG) in a £1.7 billion takeover which Unite warned at the time could result in a 16 per cent reduction in the combined workforce.

Debbie Hutchings, Unite industrial officer, said: “The proposed closure of 12 Virgin Money branches across Scotland is not only shameful but bizarre as the group has just about completed the rebranding exercise of the former Clydesdale branches.

“The announcement will disproportionately impact on workers and communities across Scotland, and it is here where the Virgin Group axe will fall the hardest. Island communities from Portree to rural towns such as Wick are going to be left behind by Virgin Money.

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"Our nation’s town centres from Cumbernauld to Musselburgh will be further hollowed out as fewer people will come into town if there is no bank branch. This will directly hit the businesses that remain on the high street.

“The Virgin Money Group claim the principal reason for the closures is down to its digital banking drive. However, what happens to the people in our Island and Highland communities where internet reception is notoriously poor not to mention the difficulties which many people have in using mobile app technology.”

“The Virgin Group has abandoned all social responsibility with these proposed closures, and they are completely disregarding the damaging effects that these closures will have on thousands of customers.

"We are calling on politicians in the areas affected to work with us to save these branches, and Unite will be raising this as a matter of urgency with the Scottish Government.”

Virgin Money stated said the number of customers using bank branches for day-to-day transactions had been on a “downward trajectory” for a number of years, and this has been further accelerated by the pandemic.

It claimed the decision to close a branch was based on a number of factors, including location, usage, proximity to alternative branches and lease arrangements.

Virgin Money bosses said they had given “careful consideration” of the impact on the local area, as well as the needs of “vulnerable customers” and the accessibility of alternative services such as free-to-use ATMs and the Post Office.

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