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High Street bank branches shrunk in size to stay open





High Street bank branches shrunk in size to stay open High Street bank branches shrunk in size to stay open
  • Lloyds' plan to shrink bank branches to an express size could keep more open  
  • It wants tiny 'Tesco Express-style' branches, where customers serve themselves
  • One branch, already open in London, measures around 13 ft wide by 13 ft deep
  • But bank is also building larger branches, with meeting rooms for small firms 

Bank branches could be shrunk in size and stripped of their cashiers, while others will be fitted with coffee shops in a High Street revolution.

Money Mail can reveal that hundreds of Lloyds branches are being completely redesigned, with other banks expected to follow.

Many of the Lloyds branches will no longer have traditional banking counters where you pay in cheques and open a savings account.

Instead, it wants to create tiny 'Tesco Express-style' branches, where customers serve themselves using machines.

Is it a bank, or is it a kiosk? The Lloyds micro branch near St Paul's in London is a mere 13ft wide Is it a bank, or is it a kiosk? The Lloyds micro branch near St Paul's in London is a mere 13ft wide

Is it a bank, or is it a kiosk? The Lloyds micro branch near St Paul's in London is a mere 13ft wide

Promotional images show they may, in some cases, be no bigger than a garden shed. 

At one branch already open in Central London, the main branch space measures around 13 ft wide by 13 ft deep, plus a small meeting room. A typical small Lloyds branch is roughly 45 ft by 45 ft.

There will be at least two members of staff on duty to help customers less familiar with computers.

But instead of sitting behind a glass screen, they will be stood waiting to greet customers as they come in — like staff in a mobile phone shop.

 

Customers will be able to use the machines to bank cheques, pay bills and print statements. Advisers will have iPads to help answer your questions.

The revamp means that, in some areas, customers won't be able to take out a mortgage or speak to advisers face-to-face about their finances, but in future could do so in a separate booth over a video link.

The bank is also building around 15 larger branches. These will have multiple floors, coffee shops and meeting rooms for local small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Lloyds is considering calling the branches 'Express' or 'Micro' branches and has pinpointed 25 sites. The first will open in four months.

The bank is also building around 15 larger branches across the country, each with 30 to 40 members of staff.

These will have multiple floors, coffee shops and meeting rooms for local small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Blueprints show these branches look a little like a library or community centre.

Customers will be able to visit for lessons from so-called digital experts on how to use computers and the internet.

They will also be able to rent safety deposit boxes — a service Lloyds hasn't offered to new customers since 2011.

The larger flagship branches will be located in popular cities. Some will be built from scratch, while others will be expanded versions of existing ones.

The first two are due to open in London and Manchester by the end of the year. There will then be more than a thousand 'normal' branches. 

These will offer the usual counter services, but have upgraded self-service machines.

In rural areas, they will be called 'community branches'. These will be smaller than those in cities, which will be known as 'anchor branches'.

Lloyds says the redesign will help it keep branches open. Bank branches are disappearing from High Streets at an astonishing rate — with more than 1,000 lost in the past two years.

Many towns and villages have been left without a single branch.

Kiosk: The new express branches of Lloyds Bank in the City of London. Other banks expected to follow suit Kiosk: The new express branches of Lloyds Bank in the City of London. Other banks expected to follow suit

Kiosk: The new express branches of Lloyds Bank in the City of London. Other banks expected to follow suit

Lloyds alone has announced plans to shut 400 of its 2,000-plus branches by the end of 2017. More may follow. 

And in some towns and cities, banks such as Barclays and HSBC have already begun trialling modern branches, where customers are encouraged to do all their banking using machines — though these are the size of normal branches and typically have a cashier on-hand for those who prefer counter service.

Meanwhile, Virgin Money has launched 'lounges' where its customers can sit, use the free wi-fi and enjoy a coffee. 

This is the future of banking... it's vital that they don't lose sight of the most important aspect of good service — the human touch 

And Nationwide allows its customers to visit branches and talk to mortgage experts via a video link.

But Lloyds' plan is by far the most comprehensive overhaul. Martyn James, a consumer expert, says: 'This is the future of banking. As more branches face the chop, banks will have to recognise the need to change and adapt their branches, so they provide the services customers really need. 

While it's important banks continue to invest in new services, such as digital banking and cyber security, it's vital that they don't lose sight of the most important aspect of good service — the human touch.' 

Endangered: Many of the Lloyds branches will no longer have traditional banking counters where you pay in cheques and open a savings account Endangered: Many of the Lloyds branches will no longer have traditional banking counters where you pay in cheques and open a savings account

Endangered: Many of the Lloyds branches will no longer have traditional banking counters where you pay in cheques and open a savings account

Lloyds is investing millions of pounds in redesigning its branches to suit the modern-day customer.

Jakob Pfaudler, CEO of retail banking at Lloyds, says: 'Up until now, you'd have some big and some small branches — but they all do the same thing.

'Now, just like Tesco has Superstores, Metro stores and Express stores, depending on where they are located, we will have different types of branches.

Now, just like Tesco has Superstores, Metro stores and Express stores, depending on where they are located, we will have different types of branches 

'We know people are not happy with technology alone and want human interaction. So staff will be there to help with the 'unexpected item in bagging area'-type problems with the machines.'

Lloyds says the micro branch it has already opened near St Paul's, Central London, has a total floor space of 360 sq ft. This compares to a typical small branch of 2,000 sq ft. However, it adds this is a particularly small branch.

Lloyds is also following Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest's lead and rolling out mobile branches for villages and towns without a bank.

Lloyds has eight in Scotland, and three in England and Wales. The bank will increase this to ten and 20 respectively.

 

 

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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