Why Ipswich Building Society is opening branches, not closing them

Richard Norrington, Ipswich Building Society chief executive.

Richard Norrington, Ipswich Building Society chief executive. - Credit: Archant

There is still an important role for building society branches despite the latest round of closure announcements.

That’s the view of Richard Norrington who took over as chief executive of the Ipswich Building Society last month on the retirement of predecessor Paul Winter.

Earlier this week, the Yorkshire Building Society Group announced plans to close 28 Norwich & Peterborough branches in the eastern region and a further 20 Yorkshire Building Society branches around the country.

In the banking sector, HSBC also recently announced the closure of a further 62 branches, on top of 223 axed in the last 12 months, while Lloyds Bank will have completed a three-year plan to close 400 branches by the end of the year.

According to consumer magazine Which? the UK’s biggest banks have closed 1,046 branches in the past two years, with the banks saying that a growing number of customers prefer to bank by phone or online.

But Richard Norrington says the Ipswich Building Society is continuing to invest in its branch network, with a new flagship branch due to open in the centre of Ipswich later this year.

“Over the last 10 years we have relocated two of our branches to improved premises, in Halesworth and Saxmundham, and opened two new branches, in Sudbury and Ravenswood, Ipswich,” he said.

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“We have recently announced plans to relocate our Sailmakers branch to flagship premises on Princes Street, renamed Mutual House (formerly home to the Chelsea Building Society) and relocate our Woodbridge branch from its current site on New Street to a prominent position on the main Thoroughfare.”

He added: “We strongly believe that there’s a role in the financial services marketplace for mutual organisations who act in the best interests of their members, guaranteeing easy access to the services they need both now and in the future.

“The new flagship premises on Princes Street will include flexible spaces to facilitate our successful ‘All In’ member programme, in addition to pop-up and charity activities to support the local community. Both of these branches will open later in 2017.”