27 Jan 2019

Bank to close Chch branch despite petition

10:46 pm on 27 January 2019

Despite a petition of 280 signatures, Kiwibank will not be keeping one of its Christchurch branches open.

Kiwibank sign

The combined Kiwibank and New Zealand Post store in the Eastgate Mall in Linwood is due to close at the end of January. Photo: RNZ

The combined Kiwibank and New Zealand Post store in the Eastgate Mall in Linwood is due to close at the end of January, but not before a petition is handed to the bank's chief executive, Steve Jurkovich, asking for it to stay.

NZ Post services will remain available through another agency at the mall. However, Christchurch councillor Yani Johanson said Linwood's Kiwibank customers were "heartbroken" to lose their local bank.

He started the petition alongside Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson.

Customers are being advised that Kiwibank services will still be available at the Palms Mall, about five kilometres away.

Mr Johanson said it was ridiculous to expect them to spend money travelling for a face-to-face interaction, especially from "one of the lowest socio-economic areas in the country."

Yani Johanson

Councillor Yani Johanson Photo: Supplied

He said two other nearby Kiwibank branches had also closed in the last year.

"All of the research that we've done shows that people are a lot less likely to travel further, in this part of the city, than in others. So it's really appalling that Kiwibank would be close a local branch that local people use, that has been by all accounts very well utilised.

"Even when there were three other branches, two of which have closed, it used to have lines out the door."

But Kiwibank's general manager for retail distribution said the bank "can't reconsider our decision to withdraw our services".

In a statement he said all banks were reviewing where they had branches but Kiwibank could not sustain multiple standalone sites in close proximity.

"The vast majority of New Zealanders now choose to do their banking online.

"Our customers access their mobile or internet banking a couple of times a day on average, but our branches are used by customers only once or twice a year.

"There is significant cost involved in holding on to these physical locations and if we don't make the difficult decisions now, we're putting our business at risk."