By Pietro Lombardi 
 

Banco Santander SA's U.K. unit plans to close some major offices and almost a fifth of its branches as it adapts to the changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, as customers shift towards mobile and online banking and companies embrace a more flexible operating model with a larger role for homeworking.

The U.K. unit of the Spanish banking giant plans to close 111 of its 563 branches by the end of August.

"Santander has consulted its trade unions on the closure proposals and expects to be able to find alternative roles for a significant number of those colleagues wishing to stay with the bank," it said.

The lender also plans to close four offices by the end of the year and reduce the volume of office space at other sites.

On Thursday, CWU union said it reached an agreement with Santander UK for the introduction of "dual location" contracts for employees based at affected offices, allowing most of them to work mainly from home, while regularly meeting colleagues at nearby collaboration hubs.

The agreement should avoid compulsory redundancies and preserve jobs, while offering a redundancy option to staff unable to move to the new contract, according to CWU.

"The pandemic has accelerated the existing trend towards greater flexible working, and our colleagues have told us this has brought significant benefits for many of them," Santander UK Chief Executive Nathan Bostock said.

 

Write to Pietro Lombardi at pietro.lombardi@wsj.com; @pietrolombard10

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 25, 2021 08:02 ET (12:02 GMT)

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