The Virgin Money branch in Kendal is set to close after the organisation announced plans to close 39 stores today (July 20). Virgin Money has said it has to adapt to changing customer demand and regularly reviews the ways customers use its stores, online, mobile and telephone channels.

The company said the number of customers using bank branches for day-to-day transactions has been on a downward trajectory for a number of years. The stores which are closing have seen an average reduction in customer transactions of 43% since March 2020 and 96% of customers in these stores are transacting less than once a month on average.

It says the decision to close a store is based on a number of factors, including footfall, transaction volumes and the number of potentially vulnerable customers in the area, Virgin Money said. Each store was assessed on an individual basis, with careful consideration of the impact on the local area, as well as the needs of vulnerable customers and the accessibility of alternative services such as free-to-use ATMs and Post Offices.

Each store closing is less than half a mile from the nearest Post Office, which customers can use to carry out day‐to-day transactions, including cash deposits and withdrawals, cheque deposits and balance enquiries, as well as coin exchange.

Sarah Wilkinson, chief operating officer at Virgin Money, said: "The decision to close a store is never taken lightly. But as our customers continue to change the way they want to bank with us, by conducting fewer transactions in-store and adopting the convenience of digital banking, we must respond to that evolving demand.

"Our focus is on supporting our customers and colleagues. We have considered the number of vulnerable customers using each store very carefully throughout the review process as a key factor in our decision making, and will proactively provide enhanced, bespoke care to ensure any vulnerable customers affected are supported through the changes.

"For our colleagues, we will pursue all options to retain as many as possible within alternative roles, and have had great success previously with store colleagues moving to other customer operations roles, as their skills are highly transferable.”

Virgin Money will work with customers to support what it says will be a smooth transition, particularly where vulnerable customers are concerned. Customer care colleagues will contact vulnerable customers to ensure appropriate support is provided to meet their banking needs following the closure and help with any issues they may have.

A range of support services will be available prior to store closures, including digital workshops to help customers become more comfortable with digital banking, as well as Post Office pop-up sessions to increase customers’ knowledge on the services available to them. Customer care colleagues will also contact vulnerable customers post-closure to ensure that the support they have received is appropriate and address any concerns they have.

For each affected store, written notification will be sent to customers and posters will be displayed at least 12 weeks before they close, providing details on the alternative ways customers can continue to manage their accounts, including nearest alternative stores, ATMs and Post Office counters. 

The closure plans have been shared with LINK who, on behalf of the Cash Action Group, have independently assessed the access to cash needs of the local community for each location.

Virgin Money will support affected colleagues with finding alternative roles wherever possible, either within other stores or elsewhere in the Group, particularly with the increased opportunities provided by remote and flexible working options. However, some colleagues will be at risk of redundancy.

The company says stores continue to play an important role in Virgin Money’s business and, so far this year, the bank has invested around £5m into its network, refurbishing stores and ensuring colleagues have the tools they require to support customers.

Virgin Money last announced store closures in September 2021. Following these latest changes, which will take effect later this year, it will have a network of 91 stores across the UK.