Nationwide will invest £350 milllion over the next five years. Picture: PA
NATIONWIDE has made a £350-million commitment to safeguard its 650 high street branches for the next two years.
The Swindon-based building society made the pledge to invest in all its UK branches over the next five years to invigorate the UK’s struggling high streets.
The Centre of Retail Research estimates 10,000 shops are expected to close over the course of 2019, and according to consumer website Which? more than 1,000 bank branches have closed or are due to close since 2018.
Joe Garner, chief executive of Nationwide Building Society, said: “Healthy high streets are vital in keeping local communities alive.
“They are a major part of our history and identity – a space where we come together.
“But in many cases they have become almost uniquely transactional, despite consumer behaviour highlighting that people increasingly want to relax and enjoy themselves when out shopping.
“We need to rediscover the sense of belonging that has served communities for centuries and as businesses we need to open our doors to people and not just customers.
“It’s not good enough that we succumb to the perceived inevitable and watch our local shopping centres fade away.
“We owe it to our communities to make ourselves relevant again.”
The move forms part of Nationwide’s focus on community projects, such as a £50 million project to build more than 230 new homes on the Oakfield Campus site with Swindon Borough Council, with any profit to be reinvested back into communities.
The multi-million pound pledge will include a roll out of new branch designs to create a more community feel.
Mr Garner added: “As a mutual we exist to serve the needs of our members and we are driven by that purpose.
“Our members tell us they want digital convenience and a human touch.
“That’s why we are both investing in technology and making this promise to maintain our branches.
“Even with the latest technology, members appreciate being able to visit a building and meet with real people who can help them with their financial affairs or even just listen.”