Strategic estate agency alliance with Belvoir Group announced
We have announced plans to enter into a strategic alliance with Belvoir Group PLC. This will see our estate agency and lettings services being delivered through Belvoir’s established network of franchises trading under the brands Belvoir, Northwood, Newton Fallowell and Lovelle from the end of July.
Under the agreement Belvoir will have the opportunity to operate from our building society branches, giving us greater potential to support homeowners in locations where we don’t currently offer estate agency and lettings, allowing us to extend these services to more members.
The partnership could, in time, also enable us to extend our own reach, creating a presence for building society services, through Belvoir offices in locations where we don’t currently operate.
Chief Executive Officer of The Nottingham, David Marlow, commented; “After great consideration, we believe the model is in our members’ best interest and for the long term success and sustainability of the Society is to deliver an estate agency and lettings proposition through an expert partner. We already successfully use this approach for a number of services delivered to members and the strategic alliance we are undertaking with the Belvoir Group not only provides a continuation of service to the majority of our members, but brings greater opportunities to work closely together to boost the reach of our combined national networks. Whilst the transfer of our operations to the Belvoir Group marks the end of an era of us being our own estate agency, we’re confident it’s a positive move for the Society and our members.”
Dorian Gonsalves, Chief Executive Officer of the Belvoir Group said: “This is an exciting and mutually beneficial opportunity for both companies. Similar to The Nottingham, Belvoir originated in the East Midlands and we share the same ethos of ensuring that the customer is always at the centre of everything.
“This strategic alliance allows our Group to provide The Nottingham’s members with a seamless estate agency service, either from our shared or stand-alone locations throughout the UK. This alliance also enables our franchisees to open in new locations, further increasing the Group’s footprint.”
The vast majority of our estate agency and lettings activity will transfer over to the Belvoir Group and we will cease trading for new in-house estate agency and lettings operations business by the end of August. This will regrettably result in the closure of three standalone estate agency branches and three combined building society and estate agency branches at the end of July. The proposed branch locations for closure are: Enderby; Syston; Western Park; Market Harborough; Chatteris; and Wisbech.
David Marlow continued, “The transfer will impact a number of our team members and we have spoken to them all personally and will ensure they are fully supported through this process. From the outset our key priority has been to protect as many jobs as possible and we are working closely with the Belvoir Group on the details of the transfer and the opportunities it presents for our team members.”
We have also taken the opportunity to review our wider branch network, with an eye on long-term sustainability and in response to changing consumer behaviour and members accessing services in different ways, and have also shared proposals to merge a small number of branches, primarily in locations where there is a very close concentration of locations.
As our members know, we have always been a strong advocate for the role branches play in delivering face to face advice and service, doubling our network by 32 locations over the last seven years.
We are proposing to take the branch network to 48 with the merger of eight branches that have a partner branch close by. Those are: Wollaton Park; Firth Park; Carlton Hill; Groby; Netherfield; Sherwood; Ruddington; and Harpenden. We are also proposing to close our Huntingdon branch as there isn’t a suitable local branch for it to merge with.
We would like to take this opportunity to assure our members that where a branch closure is taking place, the nearest replacement building society branch that services will be merged with will be no more than 5 miles away. Whilst most of the locations affected are in Greater Nottingham, following these changes we will still have 8 branches within a 5 mile radius of our flagship Nottingham branch on Upper Parliament Street.
To demonstrate our ongoing commitment to branches, we will be investing in modernising and upgrading a number of branches to enable them to support more members. The branch mergers will take place in the fourth quarter and we will be working closely with its members and team members during this period to support them with the transition.
David Marlow, commented further “Like many other businesses, As a consequence of the pandemic we have seen consumer behaviour changing significantly with members increasingly looking to manage their finances through digital channels. In addition to this, we know that younger customers favour a digital solution.
“We remain absolutely committed to our branch network and we genuinely believe that branches continue to have a key role on the high street to support our members – that is why we continue to have a significantly larger branch network for a building society of our size. We will be investing in improvements in the newly merged branches, as well as implementing new working practices, such as new opening hours, to improve the member experience”.
“In total the proposed changes will affect around 120 roles and we have spoken personally to team members affected. Whilst we seek to offer redeployment opportunities from across the society wherever we can we will also be offering job support packages to the team members that do leave the business.”
Alongside the changes announced we have also shared plans to accelerate our digital programme, building on sustained investment in this area over the last three years. We will be significantly bolstering our digital savings offering in early 2021, with the capability to also extend our whole of market mortgage advice proposition digitally to attract younger members seeking an exclusive digital journey.
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