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UBS to close a sixth of its Swiss branches

Probably not on the chopping list: UBS headquarters in Zurich. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

The closures will affect 44 of the bank’s 239 branches in the country, mainly smaller ones, UBS confirmed on Tuesday. The bank plans to continue beefing up its online offers.

The announcement, which had been rumoured for a few months already, was confirmedExternal link by UBS Switzerland director Axel Lehmann to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper on Tuesday.

Lehmann said the decision was due to the changing needs of clients. In the past year, over-the-counter transactions in UBS branches fell by 10%, and two-thirds of clients now deal with the bank mostly digitally, he said.

It’s like “small village grocery shops, which it’s not possible to keep running when clients shop online or go to big supermarkets”, Lehmann said.

The coronavirus pandemic was not the direct cause of the decision, but it “accelerated the trend towards digitalisation”, he added.

UBS once had some 300 branches across the country. It already shut down 28 of them last year.

The UBS closures will happen in the next few months, and will affect around 150 staff, although no layoffs are currently planned, Lehmann confirmed.

Switzerland’s second largest bank Crédit Suisse announced last year it would cut 39 of its 146 branches, as part of plans to save CHF100 million ($112 million) annually.

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