The eco brief. LCL bank will close 250 branches in France

An LCL agency in Ouistreham (Calvados). Illustrative photo. (SAMEER AL-DOUMY / AFP)

The former Crédit Lyonnais has already experienced two transformation plans, in 2016 and 2018. This time, it concerns small agencies, those with fewer than four employees. The 600 employees concerned will be grouped together with those of other larger agencies in the network. This plan is called “New Generation LCL Network”.

Expectations have changed on several points. Where in traditional commerce the “click and collect” has developed since the start of the pandemic, in banking the long-distance relationship has grown by force of circumstances, with containment helping. The demand for service has also increased, to the point of establishing an average of four people needed per branch to satisfy customers. Up to 150 local branches with fewer than four employees will be maintained in places where necessary. When this plan is fully implemented, LCL will have around 1,350 branches compared to 1,600 today. But new points of sale will emerge to reorganize the territorial network. For some observers, the crisis has a good back in this case and even if the management promises zero layoffs, the reorganization is clearly aimed at saving money.

All the establishments have been reorganizing since well before the crisis. Societe Generale plans to close 600 branches by 2025, BNP Paribas is reorganizing its opening hours, Bred Banques Populaires has just invented the bank by appointment only. In addition to the rise of online services (neo-banks), low interest rates weigh on results. Credit is indeed the raison d’être of a bank. When credit earns less with low rates, activity suffers. The real question is about the next step: will there still be neighborhood bank branches? The answer is clearly yes because nothing will replace the proximity and the contact between the client and the advisor. A lasting concept and value, even if it may seem paradoxical in the age of “everything from a distance”.

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