Halifax plans 120 branch closures

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The Independent Online
NIC CICUTTI

Halifax staff look set to face hundreds of redundancies as the building society reorganises its head office functions into a single administrative unit, their union warned yesterday.

The threatened redundancies follow the announcement that the Halifax is to close more than 120 branches and review head office costs following its merger with the Leeds last year. The rationalisation programme is expected to last up to two years, but the first departures could take place within the coming months.

Mike Blackburn, chief executive of Halifax, said: "Our customers and staff can see that we still have duplicate branches in many towns and cities. They expect us to address this over time and we are doing so. We will ensure that we have a network of the right size and quality to meet our customers' needs - and the appropriate central head office support to achieve this."

The closures announced yesterday are in addition to the decision last August to close a extra 42 branches in the merged society's 1,100-strong network.

Halifax said yesterday that managers and employees had been briefed in advance, while negotiations had taken place with both staff unions. Most staff would be transferred among branches, minimising the need for any job losses.

Clive Webster, general secretary of the Leeds Staff Association - which represents more than 4,500 members - said: "Since the merger... we have [jointly] achieved agreements that there will be no compulsory redundancies. We have also negotiated arrangements for relocation, re-training voluntary early retirement and voluntary severance as appropriate."

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