For years, closing branches was an alien concept to Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest commercial bank. When rival HypoVereinsbank said last year it would shut down 300 sites, Deutsche Bank remarked that it had no such plans. “On the contrary, we’re investing here,” an official said with a hint of pride.
Before Christmas, Rainer Neske, Deutsche Bank’s head of Private and Business Clients, was sounding more cautious. “Branches continue to play an important role but digitalisation does of course have an impact on our physical network,” he said. “The number of branches definitely won’t go up.”
The bank plans radical cutbacks in its retail banking operation as part of a new strategy the management is working on. Hundreds of the 750 domestic and 2,000 foreign branches will be affected, said officials with knowledge of the plans – regardless of which of the three scenarios currently being considered is chosen.