Customers Bank will be consolidating its Pennsylvania branches and closing five locations throughout southeastern Pennsylvania, including two in Berks County, the Chester County-based bank announced Thursday.
The Berks branches to be closed are in Exeter Township at 1 Hearthstone Court off East Neversink Road, and in Muhlenberg Township at 350 E. Bellevue Ave.
Three other locations will also cease operations in southeastern Pennsylvania:
• Route 413 and Doublewoods Road, Langhorne, Bucks County.
• 3557 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, Delaware County.
• 153 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, Delaware County.
All the closures are to occur by late fall.
About 1,200 accounts at Exeter and 1,300 at Muhlenberg will be transferred to the bank’s branch at the Berkshire Mall in Wyomissing, according to David Patti, communications director at Customers Bank.
Overall, 5,000 accounts will be transferred out of the five shuttered locations, Patti said.
The branch at 701 Reading Ave. in West Reading will be unaffected by the consolidation.
There will be no interruption in services, Patti said, and clients can conduct transactions at any Customer’s Bank branch.
The move is due to a heavy decrease in foot traffic to brick-and-mortar locations, especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Sam Sidhu, president and CEO of Customers Bank.
“The numbers have gone way down, to literally under 1,000 transactions in a month’s time,” Patti said. “We have people standing around in branches wanting to be very helpful to customers, but we don’t have the customer traffic to make it justifiable.”
“More and more clients have moved to mobile and online banking making physical branches less necessary and more expensive,” says Sam Sidhu, president and CEO of Customers Bank. (COURTESY OF CUSTOMERS BANK)
Sidhu said the move is part of a national expansion that involves allocating more resources toward mobile banking and digital services, and investing in emerging technologies and leading-edge financial platforms.
“The truth of the matter is more and more clients have moved to mobile and online banking making physical branches less necessary and more expensive,” Sidhu said. “This consolidation provides wider services to a greater number of clients both on a local and a national basis.”
The closures will take place throughout October and November.
Exeter’s branch will be closing Oct. 26, and Muhlenberg will be closing Oct. 28, Patti said.
Each of the branches planned for closure currently employs four people — 20 workers overall — who will be given opportunities to apply internally for open positions, and those who don’t find new positions will be offered severance arrangements and career counseling services.
“We’re a growth company. Overall, we’ve added approximately 100 employees in the last 12 to 18 months,” Sidhu said. “Everyone will have the opportunity to apply for open positions at the organization.”
As for what will become of the buildings currently occupied by Customers Bank, Patti said the company will be vacating the premises entirely by the time the locations are closed.
ATMs will be removed, and safety deposit boxes will be transferred to other locations.
Four of the five branches are leased, except for the Exeter building, which is owned by Customers Bank.
“We’re going to think about ways to repurpose (the Exeter building),” Patti said.
For the other four locations, the bank may have to pay a termination fee to landlords, depending on the terms of the lease, Patti said.
Sidhu noted that Customers Bank has opened multiple non-branch offices within the past two years, and may even look to open new branches, as the company continues to grow nationally.
“They may be virtual tellers, or cashless branches. These are all things we’re evaluating,” Sidhu said. “Trying to create the best combination of the boots on-the-ground, physical presence, but also congruent with our more national strategy … which is trying to find the best way to support our customers, where out customers want to be supported.”
Customers Bank serves over 500,000 clients today, including nearly 490,000 digital clients, Sidhu said.
“Our biggest area is Orange County, Calif.,” Patti said. “Those are people who we don’t have a branch within thousands of miles of them. That’s the transformation of banking in the digital age.”