Simmons First closing 27 branches outside Pine Bluff

Pine Bluff-based Simmons First National Bank is closing 27 of its 88 central and northwest Arkansas branches, Simmons First National Corporation Chief Executive Officer George A. Makris Jr. said Wednesday night.

SFNB — a SFNC subsidiary — last month filed applications with the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to close the branches, none of which are in Pine Bluff. Sixteen of the branches targeted for closing were acquired by SFNB when it purchased the Little Rock-based Metropolitan National Bank network in November.

One of the former Metropolitan branches on the closure list is at 1210 Rock Street in Sheridan. The others are in Bentonville, Cabot, Conway, Fayetteville, Jacksonville, Little Rock, North Little Rock, Rogers, Sherwood and Springdale.

Of the remaining branches to be shut down, four are former Simmons First Bank of Northwest Arkansas operations in Bentonville, Fayetteville, Prairie Grove and Springdale, and seven are SFNB locales in Little Rock and Conway.

Makris said some layoffs will occur in the realignment, which was planned during preparations for the Metropolitan merger. Makris said he was unable to provide an exact count on layoffs, but a number of the positions will be eliminated through attrition. Many of the earmarked jobs were filled by part-time students and others with whom rapid turnover has traditionally occurred, Makris said.

Only a few full-time posts will be discontinued, but everyone will be employed at least through March 21, Makris said, and some new jobs will be created and filled with former employees being given due consideration.

The closures followed a survey that showed many SFNB and former Metropolitan branches would be operating in close proximity. Makris said consolidating branches made good sense and will net customers more and better services.

Combined branches will feature larger staffs and longer hours, Makris said.

“Some of our customers may be a little inconvenienced at first, but I believe they’ll soon be happy with the enhanced services the realignment will bring,” he added.