The death knell has sounded for another Maitland financial institution.
The Greater Bank was this week advising customers that its Pender Place branch will close its doors on Friday, February 5.
Signs in the branch said that customers will still be able to do face-to-face banking at its Rutherford, Beresfield, Green Hills and Raymond Terrace branches.
News of the closure on a Facebook community group page attracted some comment from members who said the closure would be an "unpopular decision" but sadly a sign of the times as branches compete with Internet banking.
In 2016 The Greater closed its previous branch in Maitland' CBD and later opened in Pender Place. Newcastle Permanent left its branch in The Levee in March. The Commonwealth Bank also moved from the city centre as has the Maitland NAB branch which closed in August last year.
In a statement, a spokesperson for The Greater Bank confirmed three Hunter branches will close and relocate its Marketown branch to a new site in the Newcastle CBD.
The branches to close are Maitland (5 February), Mayfield (5 March) and Nelson Bay (9 April).
"The decision to close these branches has been driven primarily by customer behaviour, while issues such as the proximity of other branches, lease tenure and costs were all contributing factors," the spokesperson said.
The relocation of the Marketown branch into the QT development on the site of the old David Jones building is planned for the first half of 2021. "This is an exciting move for the bank and its customers as the area continues to undergo a revitalisation, with more apartments and student accommodation, as well as retail options, planning to open up in the area over the next few years."
The Newcastle CBD branch will take on a new design which is set to be the blueprint for Greater Bank's branches of the future.
Greater Bank's Group Executive Sales Marketing and Distribution, Craig Newham, said that providing customers with over-the-counter banking through the branch network remains very important for Greater Bank, however, the reality is that a growing number of customers are moving to mobile and online facilities to complete their banking transactions.
"Greater Bank has provided customers with over-the-counter banking services for 75 years and we are committed to maintaining this key customer channel, which is highlighted by the establishment of a new branch in the Newcastle CBD," Mr Newham said.
"The reality for all financial institutions though is the need to manage changing customer behaviour, which has accelerated this year as a result of COVID-19.
"During 2020, Greater Bank has seen significant increase in the use of digital channels by customers to conduct their banking. At the same time transactions at the Maitland, Mayfield, and Nelson Bay branches have dropped by 29%.
"Over the coming months we will communicate with customers who frequented these branches and provide them with alternative options to transact with us.
"Importantly, each of these closing branches have within very close proximity a nearby branch that the majority of our affected customers have already and can continue to use.
"The closures will not impact our employees based at these branches. All will be redeployed within the branch network or to an alternative role within the Head Office operations.
"The branch ATMs will also close, however, Greater Bank customers can use the ATMs of the four major banks - Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ and NAB - direct-fee free."
Greater Bank currently services more than 273,000 customer across NSW and South-East Queensland.