Society must not be ‘quietly wound down’

George Cowcher Chamber of commerce
George Cowcher Chamber of commerce

Moves to “stop the rot” at the Derbyshire Building Society are underway after its parent company announced a series of branch closures.

The Nationwide said in early June it would be closing a further 10 branches of the Derbyshire in its main heartland – the latest development in a long line of branch and head office cutbacks following its takeover of the regional building society in 2008.

Among the closures are the Duffield and Allestree branches - which will be shut down on August 31.

Now, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce has written to Nationwide - the parent company of the Derbyshire Building Society - to offer its assistance in keeping the local brand alive.

George Cowcher, Chief Executive of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “It’s really sad to see the demise of what was once the region’s biggest building society, following its takeover by Nationwide.

“The Chamber wants to work in partnership with Nationwide to stop the rot, ensure the iconic Derbyshire Building Society brand isn’t quietly wound down and help re-establish the relationship the Derbyshire has with local businesses and consumers.

“Although it does have a national presence, The Derbyshire Building Society is a local brand and still has thousands of savers and borrowers as customers, many of whom rely on their local branch to access their cash.”

Nationwide would not reveal how many staff work in the affected branches. However it has previously promised that the majority of staff would be found work in other offices.

It currently operates 37 branches of the Derbyshire. The closures would reduce that number to 27.

Mr Cowcher continued: “It means that hundreds of highly-skilled employees have lost their jobs and been forced to either find work out of the city or transfer their skills into other sectors.

“The question now is whether or not Nationwide will maintain its existing branches or quietly wind the business down and we certainly wouldn’t want to see the Derbyshire disappear from the High Street altogether.”

Other branches set to shut are in Alvaston, Chaddesden, Normanton, Spondon, Long Eaton and Somercotes.

The chamber represents 3,400 local firms and is itself a customer of the Derbyshire.

In his letter Mr Cowcher said he wanted to help Nationwide re-establish the Derbyshire brand.

“The chamber is concerned to see further rationalisation of one of our key businesses locally,” he said.

“We would be pleased to meet with you to discuss how the chamber, as a respected platform for business, could, in partnership, re-establish the special relationship the Derbyshire Building Society has with Derbyshire businesses and people.

A Nationwide spokeswoman said: “We are in the process of responding to Mr Cowcher’s letter and will communicate directly with the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber.”