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6 SC branches to be closed by SouthState Bank

SouthState Bank

The neighborhood SouthState office on Rutledge Avenue near Hampton Park in Charleston is one of six branches in South Carolina and 30 overall the bank is closing. John McDermott/Staff

One of the biggest financial institutions in South Carolina is further cutting back its brick-and-mortar network, saying the move was prompted partly by changes in consumer behavior since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SouthState Bank, which was headquartered in Columbia before it merged with a Florida lender two years ago this month, is closing 30 branches across its regional footprint, or about 13 percent of the total. 

In the Palmetto State, six retail offices are set to go dark later this year, including two in the Charleston region, leaving it with about 83 locations, according to filings with federal regulators.

The closings are expected to take effect by Sept. 30 and will cost the bank about $8 million, primarily for expenses related to personnel, facilities and equipment, SouthState told investors.

The consolidation plan is expected to generate annual savings of about $10 million starting next year. 

The bank's Winter Haven, Fla.-based parent company said the cutbacks were partly driven by a need to reduce overhead as "part of its ongoing evaluation of customer service delivery and efficiencies, particularly in light of the changing foot traffic and customer practices" over the past two years, including an accelerated shift to mobile technology after banks closed their doors to walk-in business. 

"Like every other bank, we’ve experienced high levels of digital adoption accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in less traffic to our branch banking locations," said Kellee McGahey, executive vice president and director of marketing and corporate communications. 

All but one of the six South Carolina offices are within two to seven miles of another SouthState location, she said. The exception is in Winnsboro, where customers will have to travel about 23 miles.

Elsewhere, SouthState is shuttering 16 branches in Florida, five in Georgia, two in North Carolina and one in Virginia. 

Customers have already been notified.

The cutbacks mark the single largest round of branch closings the lender has announced since June 2020, when SouthState was created from the merger of CenterState Bank Corp. and Columbia-based South State Corp. The $2.3 billion deal paired two healthy regional franchises with about 300 retail offices combined, a figure that has since been pared to about 275.

The SouthState family tree dates back to a tiny rural bank that was formed in Orangeburg during the Great Depression and eventually became SCBT Financial Corp. The growth-focused lender made a series of targeted acquisitions starting around 2010, including First Federal of Charleston, that expanded its reach to key markets around the Southeast.

SouthState is now the fifth-largest of the 75 banks operating in South Carolina, after Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Truist and First-Citizens. It had more than $10 billion in deposits at roughly 90 offices across 29 counties as of mid-2021, according to the latest federal data.

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Contact John McDermott at 843-937-5572 or follow him on Twitter at @byjohnmcdermott