Virgin Money has been accused of being disloyal to its Broughty Ferry customers after a “baffling” decision to close its branch just months after it went through a rebrand.
The closure of the former Clydesdale Bank outlet, which occupies a prominent building on the corner of Gray Street and Brook Street, was announced by the firm on Thursday.
Some jobs may be lost as a result of the move, which takes place in January.
Virgin Money has blamed a drop in transactions and footfall, and says customers can still bank at the nearby Post Office.
Broughty Ferry councillor Craig Duncan said: “I am angered and baffled by this puzzling decision.
“They talk of a decline in footfall, seemingly oblivious of the fact that there has been something of a pandemic going on which has impacted upon businesses and lifestyles globally – and not only in Broughty Ferry.
“Indeed the fact that the furlough scheme ended today underlines how out of touch with reality this community and business-unfriendly decision is.”
Mr Duncan, who plans to ask the bank to reconsider the move, added: “Throughout many, many decades, Broughty Ferry businesses, residents and visitors have shown great loyalty to the various banks which have served Broughty Ferry and prospered thereby – and I do not think it unreasonable for such loyalty to be reciprocated.”
‘Gradual decline’ in businesses for Broughty Ferry
Mohammed Shahid, who runs a newsagent across the road from the branch, says the news is a blow to the area.
He said: “The branch always seems to be busy. I use it for my personal and business banking – I was actually going away to open a second business account there.
“This isn’t good news for Broughty Ferry, which is seeing a gradual decline in businesses.”
Neil Cooney, chairman of Broughty Ferry Community Council, says his thoughts are with the affected staff.
He said: “It looks like the stores that will be closing will likely be in the smaller areas that are adjacent to larger central sites.
“The saddening part is that these are the branches that have traditionally held close ties to the communities and where staff have developed strong relationships with customers. It will be a big miss.
Modern banking ‘challenging’ for elderly residents
“Banks will always quote decreasing visitor numbers and modern banking methods available today – however, with over a quarter of Ferry residents over 65, we know that these can be challenging.
“That is before considering the increasing threat of fraud brought about by using the self-same methods.
“I hope that Virgin will use the remaining days to ensure that all their local customers are being offered learning and directed to face-to-face alternatives like the Post Office.
“We hope that Virgin Money and their property agents are proactive in finding a new tenant rather than simply putting up the to-let signs.”
The closure is not only shameful but bizarre, as the group has just about completed the rebranding of former Clydesdale branches
Union leaders say they are concerned about the implications of the closure, claiming there are about 24,000 vulnerable customers based at the affected sites.
Debbie Hutchings, Unite industrial officer, said: “The proposed closure of 12 Virgin Money branches across Scotland is not only shameful but bizarre, as the group has just about completed the rebranding exercise of the former Clydesdale branches.”
In a statement, Virgin Money said: “Our Broughty Ferry Virgin Money store has seen transactions fall by 27% between October 2018 and September 2020, a decline which has continued this year.
Fewer visitors to branch
“In addition, 68% of customers visited the store three times or less the last 12 months, with more than half of these customers also using alternative channels and 54% being digitally active.
“While customers’ accounts will be transitioned to the Virgin Money Dundee store, they are of course welcome into any Virgin Money store.
“In addition, customers can perform banking tasks at their local Post Office at 128 Gray Street, Broughty Ferry, DD5 2DG, which is within 384 feet of the Broughty Ferry store.
“We’ll also be letting customers know that their nearest ATM is situated at the RBS bank 0.04 miles from the Broughty Ferry store.”