TD branch network unlikely to shrink despite growing technology push, CEO says

TORONTO, April 1 (Reuters) - Toronto-Dominion Bank is unlikely to close a large number of branches in Canada even as it accelerates investments in technology, as demand for in-person services has stayed strong during the coronavirus pandemic, its chief executive said on Thursday.

“There was a view emerging generally that physical locations aren’t going to be attractive because of the pandemic,” Bharat Masrani, CEO of Canada’s second-biggest lender told Reuters.

“And we’re seeing to the contrary,” he added. “Sometimes we went to open more locations because there was so much demand that we couldn’t handle the traffic with all the health protocols.”

TD had 1,087 branches across Canada as of Jan. 31, just one fewer than a year earlier. It had 1,223 branches in the United States, three more than a year ago, although the bank said in February that it will close 82 branches that it deems redundant.

Even as it does so, it remains open to growing its U.S. business through acquisitions, Masrani said.

While TD expects its office employees to combine remote work with a few days in workplaces when they return to work, Masrani said it is still early to gauge the impact it will have on its office space needs. (Reporting By Nichola Saminather; Editing by David Gregorio)