BofA to close 100 branches
Move against low-performing facilities hits 9 Charlotte-area sites inside Harris Teeters
By Rick Rothacker, Staff Writer
Posted on Wed, Jul. 06, 2005
Bank of America Corp. is closing 100 low-performing branches nationwide, including nine Charlotte-area locations inside Harris Teeter stores.
The Charlotte-based banking giant has started notifying customers of the closures, which will occur mostly in September. It will shut a total of 12 offices in North Carolina and three in South Carolina. The list includes a University City-area Harris Teeter branch that closed in January.
Bank of America spokeswoman Diane Wagner said the closures were part of an examination of the bank's overall branch network. She said the company is closing in-store locations as well as stand-alone offices, but did not provide a breakdown.
The closures will cause some inconvenience for customers, but in the long run other banks likely will snap up Bank of America's discarded locations, said Ken Thomas, a Miami-based bank consultant and founder of BranchLocation.com.
The in-store spots, however, could be less attractive, Thomas said. Banks have had trouble generating enough business at grocery stores and other retailers. They also require unusual hours and can be a less attractive place to work for some bankers, he said.
According to the latest data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the closing Harris Teeter locations had some of Bank of America's lower deposit figures in the Charlotte area.
Wagner said the bank is closing the in-store branches because they do not offer a full product line to customers and because in some cases there are nearby full-service offices. It will retain five Harris Teeter locations in the Charlotte area.
Bank of America last year closed two Harris Teeter locations, which were later filled by Central Carolina Bank, now part of SunTrust Banks Inc.
Bank of America's latest closures -- less than 2 percent of its 5,889 locations -- come as the company plans to build 100 new branches this year in fast-growing communities nationwide. The bank also is renovating 500 branches this year and adding 250 new ATMs.
Since launching a branch-building campaign in 2003, the nation's No. 2 bank by assets has built about 350 new offices, including 167 last year. The pace is slowing, however, as deposit growth in the banking industry stalls.
In a recent interview with CNBC, Bank of America Chairman Ken Lewis said the industry is approaching a point where it may have too many branches. But he said it's still important to build new locations in growth hot spots.
"The time when a consumer is most likely to change accounts is when they move," Lewis said last month. "And so even if ... a city in a broad sense is over-banked, that new area that is being built may not be, and so that is what we are trying to capture."
Charlotte's other big bank, Wachovia Corp., has been taking a similar approach with its branches. Last year, the company closed about 50 locations, while opening 78 new ones.
This year, it plans to add 100 new branches, half in Texas, while shuttering an undetermined number of locations in addition to merger-related closures, spokeswoman Mary Beth Navarro said. The company renovated 125 locations last year as part of a new plan to refurbish each branch every seven years.
Last year, Wachovia named an executive, Jon Witter, to a new post examining the location and staffing of the company's branch and ATM network, which, like many banks, had been cobbled together over the years through mergers.
Bank of America is closing nine Charlotte-area Harris Teeter branches, plus a drive-up location at 888 Union St. in Concord.
• Arboretum, 3333 Pineville Matthews Road
• Highland Creek, 5810 Prosperity Church Road (Closed in Jan.)
• Matthews, 1811 Matthews Township Parkway
• Kenilworth Commons, 1227 East Blvd.
• Morrocroft, 6701 Morrison Blvd.
• Olde Towne, 4100 Carmel Road.
• Providence Commons, 10616 Providence Road.
• University, 8514 University City Blvd.
• Northwoods Square, 2750 Celanese, Rock Hill, S.C.
Rick Rothacker: (704) 358-5235; email@example.com
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