1. GA-English

Seven out of twelve branches affected: Commerzbank closes several branches in the region

Seven out of twelve branches affected : Commerzbank closes several branches in the region

Commerzbank is closing seven of twelve branches in the Bonn/Rhein-Sieg/Euskirchen region. The institution has reached an agreement with employee representatives on location planning.

Commerzbank has determined the branches that are to be closed: In the region, the branches in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Bonn-Duisdorf, Bonn-Beuel, Hennef, Rheinbach, Troisdorf and Zülpich will be affected. There are no exact dates for the closures as yet. There will be information for customers as soon as the schedule and details for the closure of the individual branches have been determined, Commerzbank announced. This means that of twelve locations in the region, only five will remain: for example, Commerzbank will remain in Bonn-Innenstadt, Bad Godesberg, Euskirchen, Siegburg and Bad Honnef. Most recently, Commerzbank had merged the branches in Sankt Augustin and Siegburg.

Commerzbank has discussed the future branch network with employee representatives and reached agreement on location planning. This means that the approximately 450 locations out of the current 790 that the bank is holding on to have been determined. "For us, it's about a branch network that is fit for the future and a completely new business model that is geared to the needs of our customers," explains Stephan Plein, Branch Manager Private and Corporate Customers for the Bonn region. The branch is becoming less and less important for customers' daily banking transactions, and the smartphone is becoming the most important contact channel. For this reason, support via advisory centers is to be expanded. The plan is to start closing the first 240 or so branches as early as October, with the rest to follow in 2022.

No redundancies planned

Employees at the branches that will be closed will be offered jobs at other branches or advisory centers, said company spokesman Dirk Kärgel. In addition, there is also a voluntary redundancy program with severance payments or partial retirement, he added. There are no plans for compulsory redundancies.

Commerzbank plans to cut the number of full-time positions across the group from about 39,500 to 32,000 by the end of 2024. "We want to make rapid progress with job cuts," Commerzbank CEO Manfred Knof confirmed at the annual general meeting in May. Commerzbank intends to implement the job cuts primarily through retirement schemes such as partial retirement or early retirement. Management's goal is to reduce costs to 5.3 billion Euro by the end of 2024, which would be around 20 percent less than in 2020. The German government has held a stake in Commerzbank since the financial crisis of 2008/2009.

Advice by phone

"We offer exactly what our customers want: Daily banking on mobile and online, personal advice as needed," says branch manager Plein. In parallel with the branch closures, he said, the expansion of personal advice via telephone, video, chat and e-mail is starting. In the first step, employees will advise customers from central locations by phone. From the end of 2022, customers are to receive comprehensive personal advice here: By phone, video, chat and e-mail, they will be able to conduct their banking transactions and receive advice, including on securities investment and real estate financing.

"We found during the pandemic that advice "remotely" - i.e., without a branch - works well and is quick, easy and convenient for customers. Our strategy remains digital and personal, because face-to-face is still an important part of our customer service," Plein said. He had reported in March that the institute had increased its number of customers in the Bonn, Rhein-Sieg-Kreis and Euskirchen region in 2020. In total, the bank had gained a net 2688 new customers. Commerzbank has almost 120,000 customers in the region. Every third new customer had come to Commerzbank online in 2020. The number of employees in the region remained stable year-on-year at 178 in 2020.

While predecessor Martin Zielke had tried for many years to attract new customers also with bonuses, Knof had put the focus on savings right when he took office. Commerzbank reported a loss of 2.9 billion Euro for 2020.

(Original text: Claudia Mahnke/Translation: Mareike Graepel)