National Australia Bank is to overhaul its UK banking operations, cutting costs and streamlining back office processes at its Yorkshire Bank and Clydesdale Bank franchises.
Group chief executive, John Stewart, was joined by the National's recently-appointed European chief Lynne Peacock to spell out the strategy at an analysts briefing in Sydney.
Criticising Yorkshire and Clydesale management for following an 'undifferentiated' strategy from the major high street banks, Peacock said the operations had suffered from significant inefficiencies and duplication, and distribution limitations.
"In the past, our service delivery has not kept pace with customer trends, our distribution network did not extend into the south-east of England, we had no third party channels and limited direct channel capability," she says. "In addition, we lacked common products, processes and systems and had separate banking and wealth management platforms."
The restructuring will aim to transform the banks into nimble, niche players by simplifying product portfolios and refreshing the high street presence. At the back end, a broad cost reduction programme will consolidate technology platforms, centralise workloads and simplify management and reporting lines.
"We will have over 30 integrated financial service centres across the south-east and converted 39 Clydesdale and Yorkshire locations in the midlands and northern UK into IFS centres by the end of the year," says Peacock. "We will also shortly commence the conversion of 50 existing Clydesdale and Yorkshire branches into flagship High Street centres, strengthen our e-business capability and improve processing of customer transactions."