LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Royal Bank of Scotland RBS.l is to cut around 792 jobs and shutter 162 branches following a review of its branch network in England and Wales, the state-backed lender said on Tuesday.
RBS, which is more than 70 percent owned by the British taxpayer following a 2007 bailout, said the redundancies and closures were necessary because many of its branches were too close to one another - within 0.6 and 2.5 miles - and because changing consumer behaviors have seen footfall numbers plummet.
“We realize this is difficult news for our colleagues and we are doing everything we can to support those affected. We will ensure compulsory redundancies are kept to an absolute minimum,” the bank said in a statement.
The cuts follow the closure of 259 branches announced in December last year, which resulted in 680 job losses, and similar moves by Britain’s biggest mortgage lender Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L).
The two banks have cut around 3,600 jobs since December in a bid to cut costs and digitize their operations in the face of the increasing popularity of financial technology firms and online and telephone banking.
Employee union Unite criticized the planned closures and cuts, which follow the failed spin off of RBS’s Williams & Glyn brand in 2016.
The union said close to 60 percent of Williams & Glyn branches would be closed in what Unite said represented “shambolically poor management” of the business.
“Ending years of speculation Royal Bank of Scotland has effectively turned its back on the Williams and Glyn customers and staff,” National Officer Rob MacGregor said, adding