Standard Bank has announced the full list of branches that have been or will be closed, as part of the realignment of “its retail and business banking delivery model”. It will shut 104 branches, 13 more than the 91 it originally announced in March. The bulk of those being shut — 49 — are in Gauteng, with a further 11 and 10 in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal respectively. Nearly one in every five Standard Bank branches is being closed down.
Once the branches are closed (likely affecting more than the 1 200 employees first announced, given the larger number of closures), the bank will have around 525 branches in South Africa (down from 629 at the end of 2018). The ATMs at most (probably all) of these branches will disappear. For those branches in malls, single ATMs are likely already located elsewhere in the centre, while the bank will surely install ATMs at the locations of shuttered branches which are not near other ATMs.
This author argued in April that the cuts were long overdue, more so given the fact that Standard Bank and Absa were behind the curve. Nedbank has been shrinking the floor space of its branch network since 2014 (versus simply shutting branches), while FNB has been catching up quickly. Following these cuts, Standard Bank will have the smallest number of branches of the five large retail banks.
The cuts by Standard Bank weren’t random. It knows precisely how many (primary bank) customers each of these branches was serving. Layer this together with the cost of occupancy — primarily rental — and the staff overhead, and it would’ve been easy for the bank to calculate which branches simply weren’t economically viable.
With some older branches, the cost of refurbishment would have been factored in, too. Obviously, the location of the next-nearest branch was also an influence.
Some closures are obvious. The Standard Bank branch at Old Mutual’s Mutual Park campus in Cape Town, which despite the managed separation still has a cooperation agreement with Nedbank, surely never really made much sense. (Besides, the Pinelands branch is just over 1km away.) So, too, the branch in MTN’s head office (considering their financial services joint venture quietly died over half a decade ago).
In April, Moneyweb questioned some “obvious examples of overlap. In northern Johannesburg, Standard Bank has a branch at Bryanston Shopping Centre and another at Nicolway, 3km up the road. There’s a similar situation at Melrose Arch and Rosebank Mall, or at Dainfern Square and Fourways Crossing (each less than 4km from each other).”
All three of these branches — Bryanston, Melrose Arch and Dainfern Square — are among the 104 closures that have been announced.
Opening branches at Dainfern Square and Melrose Arch (both under five years old) were examples of spectacularly bad planning. Add to this the branches at Forest Hill, Menlyn Maine and Newtown Junction (all recent openings), which are closing.
Arguably, the hardest hit province is the Northern Cape, considering the vast distances between the affected small towns. Outlying areas in the Free State and Eastern Cape are similarly hit.
The full list of closures announced by Standard Bank (these documents include details of the next nearest branches):
Balfour Park Shopping Centre
Bryanston Shopping Centre
East Rand Mall
MTN (head office)
Sandton (Alice Lane)
Phuthadittjhaba (service centre)
- This article was originally published on Moneyweb and is used here with permission