Health forces closure of local bank branch
A SERIOUS health scare has forced Warwick Bank of Queensland owner manager Gary Kelly to re-evaluate his priorities, leading to the closure of the branch next month.
Mr Kelly, who opened the Palmerin St franchise seven years ago, said his decision to step down from the role followed a recent heart attack.
A suitable franchisee was not able to be found and, with an almost expired lease, the bank has since decided to close the doors.
With a career in banking that spans three decades, Mr Kelly said he had mixed emotions about leaving BOQ.
"I returned home to Warwick over 20 years ago as the manager of Westpac's Warwick and Killarney branches. Banking is in my blood," he said.
"I've been operating the (BOQ) branch for seven years and opened it because I saw a real opportunity to provide highly personalised
banking services to people I had strong relationships with and in a town and region that I know and love.
"I'm proud of what the current and past team and I have achieved over the last seven years but I also know that my young children and my health has to come first and I need some time to recover away from the stresses of running a small business."
The closure has also affected the four staff members of the branch, but Mr Kelly said two had already secured new positions.
"One has taken a role with a BOQ branch on the Sunshine Coast and another has a role outside banking lined up," he said.
"The other two are still exploring their options, but they, like me, are looking forward to a holiday first."
The branch will officially close its doors on October 23 but Mr Kelly assured existing customers they should not be concerned about losing their money.
"I'll be around to help customers transition to their new arrangements," he said.
"Accounts will be transferred to BOQ's Rangeville branch, which is also run by an owner manager by the name of Charlie Aston.
"Charlie is a good bloke and he and his staff will do everything they can to help customers transition.
"Customers can be assured that their money is safe because BOQ, as an authorised deposit-taking institution, stands behind all of its branches."
For now, Mr Kelly is putting his feet up but he says he has no plans to leave the Rose City and is sure he will be back in the workforce before long.
"Once I've had some time off to recover, I'll be looking for new career opportunities that let me make the most of my many years of experience and local knowledge," he said.
Warwick Chamber of Commerce president Bruce Partridge said the branch closure was unfortunate in an already tough time for local business.
"I think it is very unfortunate that Gary has been forced to close through illness, he is a greatly respected member of Warwick's business community," he said.
"The closure of the branch is not a good sign for Warwick, business conditions have been very tough over the last few years and any loss of business will be felt by us all."
Existing customers can still do their banking online, at the post office, through any Bank of Queensland branch or by phoning the BOQ Customer Contact Centre on 1300 55 72 72.