A western Virginia bank is closing two of its Richmond locations as it shifts strategies and looks to grow elsewhere in the local market.
Bluefield, Virginia-based First Community Bank has a plan to begin focusing largely on commercial banking to gather more loans and deposits from business customers.
As part of that plan, the company said it will shut down its branch at 900 N. Parham Road in Henrico County and a drive-up facility at 9310 Midlothian Turnpike in Chesterfield. Both are set to close Dec. 11.
The $2.5 billion bank, which is owned by holding company First Community Bancshares, said the move to target commercial customers will help it better compete in Richmond, which has seen an influx in banking competition in that sector of lending.
“It’s a matter critical mass,” said Ramsey Martin, First Community’s Richmond market president. “There are some very large institutions in this market. We have to focus on what we believe we can do best.
“We will continue to do retail banking, of course, but the focus will be on the business side and the owners and employees of those businesses.”
The branch at 900 N. Parham Road will be consolidated into the bank’s nearby office at 2702 N. Parham Road, which has been the bank’s local headquarters since it acquired Peoples Bank of Virginia in 2012. The Midlothian drive-up will be folded into a nearby location at 11400 Midlothian Turnpike.
This is the second time First Community has consolidated branches since it bought Peoples Bank of Virginia. It closed two Richmond-area branches last year as part of a seven-branch consolidation across all its markets.
The retraction is expected to be followed by expansion. Martin, a veteran local banker who had been with Peoples Bank prior to the acquisition, said First Community has plans to grow into other areas of Richmond, though he wouldn’t discuss specifics.
“We’re looking to expand into other parts of the market, which we’re not prepared to disclose at this point,” he said.
The company also said its plans will double the size of its commercial lending team. It currently has approximately 50 employees in the market.
For its remaining Richmond offices, the bank said it has upgrades in store that will eventually include remodeling to do away with traditional teller lines. That style of branch has become a trend in banking in recent years.
It will also train its employees under the so-called “universal banker” model, a buzzword for another industry trend meaning that all employees in a branch are able to process any type of transaction.
The planned December closures will leave First Community with five local branches. It presently has 53 banking locations throughout Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee.
The bank controlled about $260 million in deposits in the Richmond market as of June 30, 2014, the most recent local statistics available from the FDIC. That amounted to about 0.4 percent of the local deposit market share.
The bank’s parent company reported profit of $6.18 million in the second quarter and $12.13 million for the first half of the year. That’s compared to profits of $7 million and $12.73 million, respectively, in the same periods last year.