9 Aug 2012

Credit union cuts jobs, closes three branches

7:06 am on 9 August 2012

A South Island credit union says it will eliminate 17 jobs and close branches next month.

NZCU South says its branches in Lawrence, Hokitika and Westport will close, while its two branches in both Invercargill and Christchurch will be consolidated into one location in both cities.

NZCU South chief executive Andrew Leys says it has experienced a decline in lending because people are focussing on repaying debt, and it has also lost members, making it difficult to keep the doors open at some of the smaller of its 14 branches.

He says more members are using the internet or phone more frequently to carry out their banking activities, reducing visits to their branch.

Mr Leys says the remaining branches are in substantially sized communities such as Oamaru, Timaru and Nelson.

He says historically the credit union has been extremely successful in Invercargill and Dunedin, and areas like Nelson.

Mr Leys says he's confident that success can be sustained in communities which have the scale needed to maintain a viable operation.

He says the changes will result in savings of about $500,000 a year, and reduce its branch network to nine.

Mr Leys says some more jobs will be created in its Dunedin-based call centre.

NZCU South has been operating for four years, since the merger of five South Island community credit unions.