CLYDESDALE Bank owner Virgin Money has come under fire after resuming plans for widespread branch closures in Scotland which it put on hold because of the coronavirus.

The programme will result in the group closing seven Clydesdale Bank branches and five Virgin Money outlets in Scotland.

It will affect branches in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen and towns such as Crieff, Dingwall, Dumbarton and Wishaw.

The closures form part of a rationaliation programme that is expected to result in around 100 jobs losses in Scotland.

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Plans for the closures were originally announced in February in a move linked to the process of integrating Virgin with CYBG, the former owner of Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank.

Virgin and CYBG merged in a £1.9 billion deal announced in April 2018.

Virgin Money said on March 31 that its integration activities would not proceed until further notice, in response to the lockdown announced by the UK Government to help contain the coronavirus pandemic.

The group said its primary focus was on supporting its customers and protecting colleagues during a challenging time.

Virgin Money has decided it can now proceed with the rationalisation programme.

The integration process will result in the Clydesdale Bank name disappearing from the streets of Scotland.

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All 55 remaining branches in Scotland will operate under the Virgin Money brand, which the management team led by David Duffy thinks has the most long term potential.

The group also plans to close or consolidate a total of 40 Yorkshire Bank and Virgin Money branches in England under the programme.

Virgin Money said the closures reflected lower usage of branches.

Lucy Dimes, Group Business Transformation Officer at Virgin Money UK, said: “While the decision to recommence these redundancies and branch closures has not been taken lightly, we are committed to integrating Virgin Money under one brand as a sustainable, innovative business that invests in improving its customer offer.”

She added: “The measures we’ve put in place during the lockdown will continue to help customers engage with alternative and improved ways of banking with us.”

The measures include the use of ‘Digital Buddies’, which focus time on impacted branches to help customers with mobile and internet banking.

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However, the decision to press on with the closures was criticised by the Federation of Small Businesses.

Director of devolved nations Colin Borland said: “It’s another blow for the High Street at a time when it needs all the support it can get.”

Mr Borland said branches still provide an important service for many small firms including those that need to make cash deposits. They also act as hubs for local communities.

Virgin Money noted the total number of UK job losses expected under the rationalisation programme has been reduced to 300, from 500 in February, citing organisational changes made in response to the coronavirus. It will try to minimise compulsory redundancies.

Virgin Money expects to cut around 50 branch-based roles in Scotland. About 50 head office positions in Glasgow and Edinburgh will be cut.

Clydesdale Bank branches in Crieff, Dingwall, Dumbarton, Dyce, Edinburgh and Wishaw are due to close, along with a Virgin Money branch in Giffnock. The consolidation process will affect a Clydesdale bank branch on Glasgow’s Queen Street and Virgin Money outlets in Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh.

Asked if Virgin Money planned to stop issuing Clydesdale Bank notes a spokesperson for the group said: ”If there are any changes to note issuance, we will announce this to the market at the appropriate time.”