TARA Foley, managing director of Bank of Scotland, has said it is “committed to the branch network” as it unveiled a new flagship branch in Glasgow, against a backdrop of a stream of high street bank closures across the industry.

The multi-million-pound Argyle Street refurbishment is described as state-of-the-art and includes home-buying advice, a business start-up hub, and a Social Bite social enterprise café.

The branch is said to be a test-bed for future models and includes a mix of cashpoints for transactions in and out and advisors in different services such as mortgages and enterprise.

The bank said it has the biggest network of any bank in Scotland, with nearly 200 branches along with a mobile branch network serving over 100 locations.

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However, it has closed 95 branches between 2014 and 2019, while in the wider industry 396 Scottish branches across banks closed over the period in total.

Ms Foley said parent company Lloyds “invested very significant amounts of money” in the branch, showing confidence in the Bank of Scotland brand.

Ms Foley said: “Branches are not going anywhere.

“Yes, our customers are changing how they want to interact with us inside those branches but we still are committed to branch networks and we need branch networks because customers need them.”

She said: “We have an ongoing and active investment programme in our full network.”

New features and services include the branch having a dedicated business hub with a “business connector” employed to give local start-up support, alongside a professional space in which small business owners can work and network with other entrepreneurs.

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Ms Foley said: “We were thinking about what customers want, when they come into a branch, what do they really value, what can we give them that’s helpful?

“So we’ve got a home-buying section that will help people get on the property ladder, and end to end through the whole process.

“We also have a dedicated business hub and this is differentiating us from what you would traditionally see in a branch.

“The whole purpose of that hub is to help businesses start up, and sustain themselves once they’ve started up.

“So again a lot of hi-tech equipment for our business customers to use, we will be hosting a lot of events, we have a business connector whose sole role will be to work with local businesses and businesses across Scotland to create interesting events and bring them together to form networks.

“We are also going to provide a lot of advice around how to manage your money.

“We have a partnership with Schroders Wealth and we will have expertise from Schroders here to work with customers who are interested in having any kind of financial advice.

“It’s exciting to finally open the doors to our new state-of-the-art flagship branch in Glasgow."

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She said: “While new technology is rapidly changing the way many people do their day to day banking, support and guidance from our colleagues remains crucial for the big or unexpected moments in our customers’ lives, such as buying a home, having children, or dealing with a bereavement.

“That’s why we’ve created a different kind of bank branch.”

It will also utilise “the trusted personal service provided by our expert colleagues”. The branch has a partnership with Social Bite to provide an informal space for customers and visitors and has regular events run in partnership with companies including Google and Microsoft to share expertise on topics such as home-buying and digital skills for children.

There will be extended bank opening hours with the branch open seven days a week, and until 7pm on week nights. Argyle Street is one of the country’s busiest branches with over 50,000 customers going through the doors each month, and covers 14,000 square foot over three floors.

The bank said its connection with Argyle Street goes back more than a century, with Glasgow-based Union Bank of Scotland, which merged with Bank of Scotland in 1955, opening at number 174 Argyle Street in 1880.