By Scott Wright

CLYDESDALE Bank owner Virgin Money has put a temporary halt to its latest branch cull.

In February the bank said it would close 22 branches and consolidate a further 30 in a move linked to the process of integrating Virgin with CYBG, the former owner of Clydesdale Bank and Virgin Money. The two merged in a £1.9 billion deal announced in April 2018.

The latest closures would have put 215 branch jobs at risk, and left the bank with a network of just 166. Eleven branches across Scotland were in the firing line, in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen as well as towns such as Crieff, Dingwall, Dumbarton and Wishaw.

But the plans have been put on ice because of social distancing measures introduced to tackle the spread of the coronavirus, which has curbed the ability of staff to move around.

Virgin said yesterday that the “current situation with Covid-19” meant it had shelved its cost and branch-cutting plans “until further notice”.

Lucy Dimes, group business transformation officer at Virgin Money UK, said: “Our primary focus is on supporting our customers and protecting our colleagues during this challenging time. As a result of the impact of coronavirus in the UK, we have decided not to proceed with the integration changes we announced in February.”

The proposed branch job cuts were part of a total of 500 redundancies announced in February by the bank, which has been seeking to make savings in light of the merger. The 500 figure was in line with the 16 per cent cut to total headcount forecast when the merger was announced.

In total, the integration will amount to the loss of more than 1,500 jobs across the board.

The changes proposed by the bank also include the phasing out of the Clydesdale and Yorkshire names to bring the full operation under the Virgin Money banner. The rebranding is scheduled to be completed in October.