Santander agency at the Willow Brook Centre to close “within six months”

Santander agency branch, Willow Brook Centre, Bradley Stoke.

Bradley Stoke’s only banking facility, the Santander agency branch at the Willow Brook Centre, is to close “within six months”, The Journal has learned.

A reader with an account at the branch contacted us yesterday (Thursday 13th February) to say she had received a letter stating that the Bradley Stoke branch would be closing “later this year”. The news was confirmed today by a Santander spokesperson who explained that, following a strategic review, the international bank has decided to consolidate its retail operations into its proprietary branches.

Across the country, Santander has served notice on 139 such ‘agencies’ (retail outlets not owned by the bank which provide limited banking services under licence and use Santander’s branding).

Steve Pateman, Head of UK Banking at Santander said:

“Santander has come a long way from when it was a collection of three building societies. With a simplified and enhanced product range, we are offering our customers great value every day, and with enhancements in mobile banking, internet capability and the improvements we have made to our proprietary branches, we have a distribution capability that allows our customers to bank with us, in the way they want, when they want.”

“Part of enabling customers to choose how they deal with us, is making sure that all of our retail branches offer full banking. Consolidating our operations, following today’s announcement, is a vital next step for Santander, allowing us to concentrate on further enhancements and investment in, our proprietary branch network, including branch openings and refurbishments.”

Once the agency branch closes, the nearest Santander branch to Bradley Stoke will be the one in Kingswood.

The announcement means that banking services at the Willow Brook centre look set to be lost for the third time in less than five years. The unit housing the current Santander branch originally opened as a Nationwide agency in October 2008, only to close suddenly in February 2010. It then reopened as a Santander agency in December 2010 before closing again in August 2011. It then reopened under the Santander brand for a second time, under new management, in September 2011.

The disappointed Santander account holder who contacted The Journal said:

“When we switched our account last year, the staff were very positive that the agency had a long term future in Bradley Stoke.”

“I hope another bank sees that there is an opportunity here, or maybe the Post Office.”

The owner of the Bradley Stoke agency could not be contacted and staff at the branch said they had been told not to give any further information to the media.

A Santander spokesperson told The Journal:

“It may not mean the loss of banking services to Bradley Stoke, as the agent (who, of course, is a third party) might choose to find an alternative supplier. There are some building societies that still use agencies.”

He added that Santander offers full internet, mobile and telephone banking services.

Speaking a few days after the Santander announcement, Andy Wynn, manager of the Willow Brook Centre, said:

“We are naturally disappointed that Santander’s decision to close it’s UK wide network of agency branches will see the Willow Brook branch close, particularly with thoughts to the team that work there. However, our focus now switches to marketing the unit to prospective new tenants over the coming months.”

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  1. Well ive been with Santander since they opened at the centre.
    Im really dissapointed as i use the branch a lot.
    We need local banking services. I will have to move my account to either hsbc or lloyds
    As they are the closest banks with branches .

  2. I am in process of consolodating my finances and was about to open the 123 Account due to the convenience of the branch. However i will now not bother. I suspect the rent on the unit is escalating so Santander pulling the plug. Hope the staff get placed elsewhere for their sake.

  3. First Nationwide, now Santendar. Why does no bank want to open a proper bank in Bradley Stoke? Do they think everyone is happy to use phone banking and internet banking.

    Whilst many are, Metro in the South East and Handelsbanken are growing their networks with Tesco, Virgin and Sainsburys planning to launch full banks this year. I hope that Tesco will launch a bank in Willow Brook soon.

  4. Again yet another big bank putting Profits before People, this is becoming the norm for big banks shutting agencies, Alliance and Leicester did this many years ago and the Halifax did it within the last six years. I thought Santander would have been interested in turning the Agency into a Branch as there is no other bank in the Bradley Stoke area. I feel sorry for the staff who will lose their jobs.

  5. I received a letter to say the Kingswood branch was closing. There used to be one in Thornbury – don’t know about that one. But its pushing people to do banking on line when they don’t want to.

    The Lloyds Bank on the Gloucester Road, next to Kwikfit is open all day on a Saturday. I went there last Saturday and it was very busy. Thank goodness some banks are moving towards what the customer wants.

  6. kim says !I received a letter to say the Kingswood branch was closing;

    This may be the case as there are currently two Santander branches almost opposite each other on Regent St so it is quite likely that one will go. I have used the one which is on the precinct side in the last three months and not had advice that this is closing.

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