Global banking giant HSBC has announced plans to close 62 branches in the UK this year, citing growth in mobile and internet banking.
The latest closures, which are in addition to previously announced shutdown of 55 branches this year, are expected put nearly 180 jobs at risk.
HSBC retail banking head Francesca McDonagh was quoted by BBC as saying: "Fewer people are using branches. More than 90% of our interactions with customers are now through our digital channels – an increase from 80% last year.
"The decision to close these branches ensures a more sustainable branch network for the future as we continue to invest in our digital platforms and our people.
"We will have fewer but better branches, with more empowered front-line colleagues using a greater range of technology to support all our customers' needs."
According to a research report published by consumer group Which?, the bank had shut down over a quarter of its branches in the UK over the past two years.
HSBC said that it had closed 223 branches in 2016.
Unite national officer Dominic Hook said: “Today is a dark day for hundreds of HSBC staff who will arrive at work to be told that they could lose their job as their branch closes or their IT role is cut.”
In 2015, HSBC announced a three-year restructuring plan that involved shutting down of underperforming units to raise its revenue. Its earnings were pressurized by an increase in compliance costs, penalties, and low interest rates.
The restructuring plan was aimed at eliminating one-sixth of its employees in Britain. Its headcount stood at 47,000 in the UK by the end of December 2015.
Image: HSBC's headquarters in London. Photo courtesy of Danesman1/Wikipedia.