UK-based financial services brand Virgin Money is planning to shut down 39 bank branches across the UK by the end of this year, nearly one-third of its branches in the country.

The branch closure would reduce Virgin Money’s branch network from 130 to 91 outlets in the UK, putting 255 jobs at risk of redundancy.

The company’s decision is driven by more customers moving to online banking, and follows several High Street banks, such as Lloyds and Halifax, closing their bank branches this year.

Last year, Barclays closed 132 bank branches in the UK, and around 80 banks announced closures of their branches in July this year.

The UK financial services company said that it would pursue all options to prevent as many redundancies as possible by offering alternative roles to those at risk.

Virgin Money chief operating officer Sarah Wilkinson said: “The decision to close a store is never taken lightly. But as our customers continue to change the way they want to bank with us, by conducting fewer transactions in-store and adopting the convenience of digital banking, we must respond to that evolving demand.

“Each store was assessed on an individual basis, with careful consideration of the impact on the local area, as well as the needs of vulnerable customers and the accessibility of alternative services such as free-to-use ATMs and Post Offices.

“Each store closing is less than half a mile from the nearest Post Office, which customers can use to carry out day‐to-day transactions, including cash deposits and withdrawals, cheque deposits and balance enquiries, as well as coin exchange.”

Unite, a trade union in the UK and Ireland, engaged in defending and improving members’ jobs, pay and conditions, has criticised the bank’s decision on branch closure.

According to the union, Virgin Money UK staff are devastated by the new closure of 39 bank branches, leaving only 91 branches left in the country.

Unite has urged the bank to rethink its plans to withdraw banking services from communities that are dependent on experienced banking staff.

Also, the bank’s decision to withdraw from 39 locations will affect some of the most vulnerable, disabled and digitally excluded customers, said the trade union.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This announcement of the closure of 39 vital bank branches has sent shock waves across the Virgin Money UK workforce.

“Today 260 skilled and experienced staff have learnt that they risk losing their livelihoods at a time of deep economic uncertainty for all workers.

“While the financial services sector is acquiring eye-watering profits, they must start taking their responsibilities to customers and communities more seriously.

“Access to a bank and cash is a fundamental need for all our local high streets. Simply walking away from the consumers who bring the banks astronomical profits is a complete disgrace.”

“Unite is working hard across all locations to support its members as they digest the implications of this awful news.”