Portman is to close four of its branches.
A statement from the society reads: “Every year Portman undertakes a thorough analysis of performance branch by branch and studies the trends carefully.
“The society identifies potential locations for branches, branches which are in need of investment or relocation and those whose performance is starting to go backwards. Portman is one of the few institutions actively developing its branch network.
“In October 2004 following an annual review of its branch network, Portman identified nine branches whose performance gave cause for concern.
“Rather than close those units with immediate effect, the society encouraged its members to support their local branch and so it decided to defer a decision for a further twelve months.
“It endeavoured to encourage greater branch usage by increasing opening hours as well as financing more advertising and promotional support.
“A year has passed and the latest review has now been completed. Of the nine under special review five will be maintained and four will close. Braunton in Devon, Selsey in West Sussex, Melksham in Wiltshire and Wootton Bassett also in Wiltshire will close.
“The branches remaining open are Hassooks in West Sussex, Parkstone in Deorset, Penzance in Cornwall, Torrington in Devon and West moors in Dorset.
“Whilst the details of individual branch performance are business sensitive, the offices which will close will do so primarily as a consequence of a stagnation or decline in member usage and a failure to improve sales performance.”
Matthew Wyles, group development director at Portman, says: “We have been very favourably impressed by the improvement in performance which some of the relevant branches have delivered. These results vindicate our decision to engage with local communities on the issue of branch viability and are a tribute to the efforts of our branch colleagues in the relevant locations.
The closure of a branch is always a last resort and we can assure you that these decisions have not been taken lightly. We have a responsibility to our entire membership and unprofitable branches directly impact on our ability to provide the highly competitive products our members have every right to expect.
Portman’s retail strategy will continue to be centred on its branch network. We remain convinced that the branch will continue to dominate the market as the distribution channel of choice for the majority of customers for many years to come.”