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Nationwide may axe four service centres to streamline processing

Nationwide Building Society may become the latest lender to opt for the super-site approach to mortgage processing as it considers closing four of its six service centres.

The lender is thinking about closing centres in Birmingham, Chester, Doncaster and Newcastle and transferring work to two centres in Glasgow and Northampton.

As a result 145 staff have been placed in consultation. The consultation period will finish at the end of May.

A spokeswoman for Nationwide says: “It’s too early to talk about redundancies but we are looking at a proposal to close four centres.
“We believe that operating out of a smaller number of larger contact centres would allow us to become more efficient.”

But brokers contacting Mortgage Strategy Online say they are disappointed that these closures are being considered.

Thelma Bell, an adviser at Mortgage Talk, says: “I am disappointed that my favourite lender is getting rid of a superb service centre in Newcastle. The staff there are professional, knowledgeable and efficient – all the things many other lenders do not offer.”

Brokers are worried that a centralised processing system will damage the prompt service Nation-wide offers, particularly from its Chester and Newcastle centres.

Other lenders have already decided that fewer but larger service centres are the way forward.

Abbey for Intermediaries and Alliance & Leicester, both brands of Santander UK, are in the process of scaling back their centres from 10 to two super-sites. The first of these opened in Glasgow last September.

And last November Lloyds Banking Group announced its intention to consolidate its mortgage operations division to seven sites, including the BM Solutions facility in Cardiff.

The lenders that have chosen bigger service centres have all been involved in mergers and acquisi-tions in the past two years, which led to many regional centres feeding into umbrella brands.

Nationwide has acquired Che-shire Building Society, Derbyshire Building Society and core parts of Dunfermline Building Society.

But the Nationwide spokeswoman says the acquisitions have no bearing on its plans.

She says: “These proposals are in no way linked to any mergers. As a mutual organisation we always think about our members and ways to mprove our efficiency.”

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