Australian lender Westpac is set to shut down 48 bank branches across the country as part of a major consolidation strategy.

The move will involve closing 40 branches under Westpac, St George, Bank SA and Bank of Melbourne brands. An additional eight branches will be co-branded, where two Westpac brands will share the same office.

The Finance Sector Union (FSU) of Australia confirmed the move and claimed that the closures will impact 165 jobs.

Notably, the move comes at a time when several banking majors across the world are trimming down brick-and-mortar presence as customers increasingly switch to digital banking.

Westpac has notified all the staff of the affected branches. It has also proposed redeployment to the workers, the FSU added.

FSU National Secretary Julia Angrisano said: “Westpac is deserting its customers and its staff by closing branches to shore up its profits.

“This shutdown of so many branches is of major concern to our members and will impact on a large number of staff, banking customers and businesses around Australia.

“Westpac will claim the decision to close branches is because consumers are moving to internet banking but that’s not the case.”

“If these branches were making large profits for the bank they would not be closing.”

Recently, Westpac also announced that it has started a procedure to assess a possible demerger of its business in New Zealand.