VIRGIN MONEY has announced plans to close 31 stores – including in Blackburn and Nelson – with the loss of around 112 jobs nationwide.

Bosses said the move comes as more customers switched to online banking during the pandemic.

They said the number of customers using bank branches for day-to-day transactions has been on a downward trajectory across the UK banking industry for several years, and this has been further accelerated by the pandemic.

Virgin Money added the decision on each site was based on location, usage, proximity to alternative stores and lease arrangements.

The company said 28 of the 30 customer stores closing are located less than a third of a mile away from the nearest post office and the final two sites had a post office less than a mile away or another Virgin Money store nearby.

A further site in Gosforth was already a staff-only site and this will also close.

The customer stores will shut their doors for the final time in early 2022 and bosses said they hope to find alternative roles for affected staff. A total of 131 branches will remain.

But the company admitted not all workers will be able to stay, with around 112 full-time equivalent roles expected to go.

Fergus Murphy, group customer experience director at Virgin Money, said: “As our customers change the way they want to bank with us and conduct fewer transactions in-store, we must continue to evolve the role of our stores into places where we showcase our products and bring our digital services to life.”

Reacting to news that Virgin Money are to close their branch in Nelson, Cllr David Whipp, leader of Pendle Council’s Liberal Democrat group said: “A loyal life-time customer of Yorkshire Bank, I'm so very disappointed that the re-branded "Virgin Money" bank is closing yet more branches locally.

“The loss of banking facilities in local townships has already seen significant footfall losses in recent years. These latest closures will be a further blow to our town centres, and be a great loss for customers wanting face-to-face services.

“I also feel for the staff affected, some of whom I've know for many years through their work in local branches.

“I know online banking is the future, but we are losing so much with these continuing bank branch closures.

“Virgin can reach the lower limits of outer space, but they're unable to reach the very heart of our communities.”

All of the sites earmarked for closure are:

  • Airdrie
  • Grantham
  • Northallerton
  • Ashton-Under-Lyne
  • Keighley
  • Newcastle, Northumberland St
  • Banchory
  • Leeds, Horsforth
  • Nuneaton
  • Beverley
  • Leeds, White Rose
  • Oban
  • Blackburn
  • Lincoln
  • Portree
  • Broughty Ferry
  • Macclesfield
  • Selby
  • Chesterfield
  • Mexborough
  • Sheffield, Meadowhall
  • Cumbernauld
  • Milngavie
  • Stenhousemuir
  • East Kilbride, Princes Square
  • Musselburgh
  • Whitby
  • Galashiels
  • Nelson
  • Wick