Credit union closes offices, sheds staff

MICHAEL BERRY
Last updated 11:39 08/08/2012

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The South Island Credit Union (NZCU South) is closing five South Island offices and shedding up to 17 jobs due to sluggish loan activity and slow membership growth.

The New Zealand-owned financial co-operative will lay off up to 17 employees in the restructure.

In Christchurch the Palms branch will close and the staff will be merged with the Hornby office, which was opened about a year ago.

The two Invercargill offices will merge, while the Lawrence, Hokitika and Westport branches will close.

The changes will happen September 7.

Chief executive Andrew Leys said the co-operative could not support such a large number of branches with so few customers. The West Coast and Lawrence offices serviced fewer than 700 customers, he said.

The decline in loan activity, coupled with fewer new customers and a drop in visits to branches, meant keeping smaller offices open was ''extremely difficult''.

''The decision has been taken to protect the future strength of the organisation and is not the result of anything staff have done or could do.''

The credit union model was highly cost-efficient, but that was not enough to justify 14 branches and three agencies in the current economic climate which appears set to continue, he said.

The restructure was ''unenviable'' and w0as being done to make the company stronger, he
said.

''We will grow through the provision of new products and services, and through the adoption of new technologies.''

This year, NZCU South won an innovation award for its Clever Me money coach programme.

The restructure does not affect NZCU organisations in the North Island.

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