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Laurentian to merge branches in restructuring

The logo of Laurentian Bank is seen at its head offices in Montreal, April 1, 2015. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi



Laurentian Bank of Canada, claiming traditional banking is becoming “obsolete,” will merge 50 branches and eliminate about 300 positions in the next 18 months as part of a restructuring.
Laurentian must evolve to meet the changing needs of customers, who have reduced branch visits, the Montreal-based lender said Wednesday in a statement. Increased economic and regulatory hurdles, along with changes in technology and customer demographics, are creating difficulties for banks, the firm said.
“We necessarily have to adapt our retail services in light of this reality to optimize our operating efficiency while meeting the changing demands of our customers,” Chief Executive Officer Francois Desjardins said in the statement.
Laurentian Bank had 3,631 employees and 148 branches at the end of July, according to financial statements. The job reductions — about 8 percent of its workforce — will be mainly through attrition, the bank said.
Lenders including Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Montreal and National Bank of Canada also have cut jobs in the past year, citing a consumer shift toward digital transactions.
Laurentian said it has made progress in its seven-year plan to become a simpler and more profitable lender. Desjardins, who took over as CEO on Nov. 1, disclosed the initiative in December.

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