Competitor looks to take over shuttered Suncorp branches
A small Queensland bank says it is looking at taking over some of the branches earmarked for closure by Suncorp saying customers still needed person-to-person contact.
Heritage Bank chief executive Peter Lock told The Courier-Mail that Suncorp's plan to shut 20 branches around Australia provided an opportunity for the Toowoomba-based bank to expand its own network.
"Whenever a bank closes branches and we move into an area, we get an influx of new members and inquiries," said Mr Lock. "It is sad that so many branches are being decommissioned.
"While there has been a shift to digital, there needs to be a mixture of both physical branches and online. What COVID-19 has shown is that people still want human contact."
Mr Lock said Heritage, which currently has 58 branches, would look to expand its interstate branch network when economic conditions become clearer. Heritage, Australia's biggest customer-owned bank, was founded in 1875.
Heritage opened its first interstate branch at Castle Hill in Sydney in October followed by a branch at Parramatta in December.
Heritage Wednesday reported that after annual tax profit fell 16.2 per cent to $36.269 million as it took a provision for the impact of COVID-19.
"Heritage had been on track to deliver an increased profit despite COVID, highlighting its strong underlying fundamentals," said Mr Lock. "However we recognised the need to be prudent and take steps to cushion the longer-term effects of COVID."
Retail deposits rose 8.8 per cent to $7.907 billion as people sought a cash buffer during uncertain times.
Heritage chairman Kerry Betros said the year's most significant achievement was the expansion of Heritage's branch network outside Queensland for the first time.
"Our long-term plans remain to establish more branches in Western Sydney, and in growth regions of Melbourne," said Mr Betros. "However, given the uncertainties of COVID, we're slowing our rollout plans and will reassess our timeframes when the situation becomes clearer."
Originally published as Competitor looks to take over shuttered Suncorp branches