Santander to Close Four U.K. Offices and 111 Bank Branches

Banco Santander SA is closing four U.K. offices as part of a shift to more flexible working. It will also shut around a fifth of its bank branches, resulting in about 600 job cuts.

The bank will shutter its Bootle, Newcastle, London Portman House and Manchester Deansgate offices by the end of 2021, Santander said in a statement Thursday. It will also take less space at four sites, including its Ludgate Hill and Triton Square offices in London.

Milton Keynes, where the bank is investing 150 million pounds ($205 million) into a new campus, will become the U.K. headquarters, alongside bases in Belfast, Bradford, Glasgow, London and Sheffield.

“The pandemic has accelerated the existing trend towards greater flexible working,” said Nathan Bostock, Santander UK chief executive officer. About 5,000 staff affected by the changes will be offered new arrangements that combine working from home with access to local spaces.

Companies are grappling with the post-Covid workplace, with some banks such as HSBC Holdings Plc looking to cut their real estate as staff push back against a wholesale return to office life. Building society Nationwide has told its 13,000 office-based staff they can work from anywhere in the country.

“Work patterns have changed since the pandemic began, and we can’t expect to go back to how things were,” said Allison English, deputy chief executive officer of workplace research firm Leesman.

Since the outbreak of coronavirus, 85% of Santander’s office-based staff have stayed home, according to the bank, which said all office staff will continue remote working until at least June 21, reflecting government guidance to help manage the pandemic.

Branch Closures

The Spanish lender also said Thursday it is closing a fifth of its U.K. bank branches as technology and remote working continue to upend traditional retail banking. The closure of 111 branches will mean the loss of about 600 jobs, a spokesman for Santander said. About 200 jobs will be reallocated across the rest of the network.

The branches will shut by the end of August, leaving the lender with a network of 452 retail sites. Many lenders are reviewing their already shrinking presence in British towns after the pandemic pushed more customers to adopt online services.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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