Finally! Natwest in Norwich opens - but two other branches close
- Credit: Archant
Natwest has opened its flagship branch in Norwich, nearly two years after taking on the lease - though its two other city-centre banks have closed.
The former HMV premises on Gentleman's Walk have been decorated with branding promising a new NatWest was 'coming soon' for more than a year, but finally opened to the public on Wednesday morning.
As a result, the two branches in London Street and Surrey Street closed for the last time on Tuesday, with all staff transferred to Gentleman's Walk.
NatWest said the new branch would meet customers' needs 'round the clock' by giving them the choice of banking online, via mobile, over the telephone, through mobile branches or the post office.
Dani Hickey, local chief executive in Norfolk at NatWest, said: 'Although an increasing number of our customers are choosing to bank with us using their mobile phones, online or via the telephone, our branch network plays an extremely important part of the service we're providing to customers.
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'Our new Norwich city centre branch shows we are committed to providing the best banking service to the local community and want to be a central part of the local communities where our branches are based.
'We appreciate our customers' patience and support while the works were being carried out, and we're looking forward to unveiling our new-look branch and new technology to customers.'
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The new branch features iPads for customers to register for online banking services, supported by staff, as well as upgraded ATMs, and cash and deposit machines.
A spokesman for NatWest said the delay in opening – nearly two years after agreeing a lease for the three-storey building in April 2015 – was to ensure the designs for the branch 'could serve all of our customers in the best possible way', adding that building work had started as soon as possible.
In May of last year, bosses apologised for the delay in opening the store, saying they were still putting the 'finishing touches' to the design.
The fate of high-street banks has been thrust back into the spotlight this year, with Norwich and Peterborough Building Society set to close 28 branches by the end of September.
MORE: Is Norwich and Peterborough closure the death knell for banks on our high streets?HSBC also announced the closure of 62 branches in January, while Lloyds is nearing the end of a three-year programme which will see 400 branches shut up shop.
The rise of online and mobile banking has seen customers shun branches: at N&P, just 23% of customers visited in person last year, while at HSBC only 7% of customer interaction happened in a branch.
• A launch event at the Gentleman's Walk NatWest will be held on Friday, April 7, between 11am and 3pm, when customers are invited for coffee and cupcakes, with tours of the branch available. The event will support the bank's chosen charity When You Wish Upon A Star.