Following Westpac’s proposal to close 19 banks in small town New Zealand, First Retail says ANZ is considering closing five branches around the country. The branches are located in Palmerston North, Milton, Ngaruawahia, Otorohanga and Te Aroha.
ANZ is also closing a site in Taihape on October 14.
First Union national organiser Tali Williams said ANZ workers were doing exactly as the company was asking them to do.
“They’re giving world-class service and meeting sales targets. But now ANZ is turning around and using a different measure – transaction volume in branches – as a reason to close branches,” Williams said.
“Banking is an essential service and every community that needs one should get one. Does ANZ expect farmers in Te Aroha to make major financial decisions with a call centre? Does ANZ expect elderly residents in Ngaruawahia to buy the new iPhone 7 and install the bank’s app instead of making their transactions at the branch?”
She says communities are being encouraged to let ANZ know that closures will hurt them.
“Banking isn’t a one-way relationship.”
This announcement follows Westpac’s move to review 19 of it stores around New Zealand.
This includes sites in Te Anau, Raglan and Whangamata.
First Retail managing director Chris Wilkinson told The Register its review is part of a wider narrative of retail struggling in New Zealand’s provincial towns.
“Closures unsettle communities and affect business confidence. From reduced amenity value through to gaps appearing in the streetscape, a bank leaving town affects community spirit, business perception and appetite for investment,” he said.
He said Westpac was no isolated event, as bank companies had been closing sites in rural towns on an as needed basis.
“What’s probably polarised people this time is where Westpac has made this move on a larger scale at once. We are sure other banks have had similar ‘managed-attrition’ but it’s gone under the radar,” he said.
A decision on whether or not Westpac will close the proposed branches is expected next week.