'Changing habits' force Scottish bank branch closures

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Media captionScotland loses 112 bank branches in a year

Scotland is losing more than 140 bank branches over an 18-month period, according to BBC research.

A total of 112 high street banks have closed since July 2015 - with a further 33 due to close their doors within the coming months.

The research covered Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Clydesdale, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander and TSB-branded banks across the country.

All the banks said the closures reflected changing customer habits.

Edinburgh has seen the greatest number of closures - with more than 20 banks to close in the city.

In Aberdeen - nine branches have closed or are earmarked for closure. Over half of them are with TSB, but the business said it was set to open a new "super-branch" to meet the changing needs of customers.

"We will be opening the first of our brand new purpose built sites in Aberdeen on St Nicholas Street later this year," a spokeswoman for the bank said.

"The new branch concept has been designed in response to customer research and feedback."

TSB said the branch would blend new technology and self-service consoles, alongside 13 face-to-face meeting rooms as their feedback showed 88% of customers wanted people on hand to help them.

TSB - which was spun-off from Lloyds Banking Group in 2014 and is now owned by Spanish banking giant Sabadell - inherited branches from the Cheltenham and Gloucester brand. It has closed nine branches in Scotland with another seven set to shut their doors before Christmas.

Even though many closures are in urban areas, rural Scotland has been hit hard.

Eight banks are closing in Highland, with Aberdeenshire and the Scottish Borders losing five. In Moray eight branches are to close - the most closures per head of population.

There, Bank of Scotland says new mobile bank branches - equipped with online technology and covering one extra route - will meet the needs of their customers.

The bank's director, Mike Moran, said: "We'll still offer cash transactions, both to pay money in and take money out, but we'll also have digital capabilities so we'll have broadband connections, wifi connections on the mobile branch and we'll have iPad-like tablets."

Image caption Nine bank branches in Aberdeen have been shut or marked for closure
Image caption Mobile banks are replacing branches in some areas

Bank of Scotland - owned by state-backed Lloyds Group - has closed a total of 28 branches in the last year, with a further 23 due to close before the end of 2016.

RBS has closed 51 branches since July last year.

Clydesdale Bank has closed 14 up to August - with another three branches to go by the end of September. Santander has closed seven and Barclays three.

The banks maintain the void closures leave can be filled online and by apps, telephone banking, and mobile or extended branches in city centres.

But the literal void left by the empty branches on Scotland's high streets could pose more of a challenge to fill.

Paul Jennings, a commercial real estate lawyer with Aberdein Considine, said: "The bigger retailers are more likely to look first and foremost at the bespoke shopping centres and retail outlets.

"I think the larger city centre bank branches lend themselves probably better to the restaurant and certainly to bars and coffeehouses and nightclubs."

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