BNZ to shut 38 branches

Bank of New Zealand is to shut 38 branches across the country as lenders continue to shrink their high street footprint.

The big four lender has announced plans to close the branches over the next seven months, despite pledging no further closures until 2022.

Of the closures, eight will shut by Christmas, including locations at Mount Maunganui and Pakuranga.

Another 14 will close in February and March, followed by 16 in April and June.

BNZ's chief customer officer Paul Carter said the Covid-19 pandemic had accelerated its plans. 

“We don’t take this decision lightly. We made our commitment on regional branches in good faith. Not only was it a commitment to the communities we serve, it was also a commitment to our people, as closing a branch used to mean losing jobs,” Carter said.

“However, Covid changed everything. Our customers have embraced digital services and tools and our bankers are serving customers irrespective of where they are.

“We’ve shown we can work from anywhere and there are job opportunities for all our people – it reflects the ongoing shift in how our customers are choosing to bank with us.”

He added: “The majority of our customers are banking online and our talented bankers are often waiting in empty branches for customers that simply do not arrive.

“Branches will still have a role in how we serve our customers. We will continue to invest in modern customer centres to help customers take advantage of online banking and our digital tools, and where they can access specialist services.”

The closures are likely to accelerate the trend towards digital banking in New Zealand. Banks are under pressure with mortgage applications with fewer staff handling home loans in branch.

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