Around 50 jobs at West Bromwich Building Society’s head office are being axed and five West Midland branches merged or closed in new cutbacks across the group.

The full details of the latest round of cuts emerged as chief executive Robert Sharpe warned the society was making “slower progress” than anticipated in its battle against the economic downturn.

The society disclosed that branches earmarked for mergers included Erdington High Street, Bristol Road South in Northfield, High Street, West Smethwick and 321, High Street, West Bromwich.

The society is looking to merge the High Street, West Bromwich operation with its branch in Dartmouth Square, with a similar link-up proposed between the West Smethwick office and Cape Hill.

Meanwhile, branches at Erdington and Northfield will close, and alternative premises sought for customers in those areas.

The society’s branch in Tamworth’s Ankerside Shopping Centre will also close along with other outlets in Chester, Coventry, Knighton, Leicester, Telford and Whitchurch. A total of 28 staff are affected across the seven branches although employees will be offered alternative roles.

Meanwhile, 50 jobs are going at the society’s head office in West Bromwich. Around 30 will go through voluntary redundancy while 20 face compulsory lay-offs.

Chief executive Mr Sharpe said: “We are making progress but it is slower than we would have liked. And that progress is against the backcloth of very difficult markets and economic conditions.”

Mr Sharpe said the mergers/closures in Erdington, Northfield, West Smethwick and High Street, West Bromwich would take place over the next 12 months. Tamworth will close from July 2 along with the other six branches in that review.

The society added in a statement: “As with other organisations, the society continues to feel the fallout from one of the worst recessions on record and, with interest rates at historically low levels and competition relentlessly fierce, it recognises the need for efficiency in operating costs.”