Tuesday 24 October 2017

AIB closing half of their bank branches in Northern Ireland

AIB (Stock picture)
AIB (Stock picture)

Alan O’Keeffe

AIB is closing half of all their bank branches in Northern Ireland with 15 of the existing 30 branches to shutdown within the next six months.

No further closures are planned in the Republic.

It is likely the closures will generate criticism in the North where the shutdowns could become a political hot potato as the bank is 99.9pc owned by the Irish State. And the closures may be viewed as a cost-cutting exercise ahead of a planned sale of 25pc of the bank due to happen as early as May or June.

By contrast,  AIB have been opening new outlets within the State since 2015, including new branches at  Little Island in Cork, Carrickmines in Dublin and Grand Canal.Dock in Dublin.

First Trust Bank announced last night it has completed a detailed 18-month strategic review and will introduce “a reshaping and investment programme designed to ensure a sustainable future for the bank and its customers, addressing the considerable shift in customer behaviour and their changing needs.”

The programme will involve “the consolidation of First Trust Bank’s branch network with the closure of 15 branches in 2017, as well as a significant £10m investment strategy for personal and business customers,”  including five new business centres across Northern Ireland.

The bank has also agreed a partnership with the Post Office  in Northern Ireland that will enable customers to conduct their everyday banking transactions in any of the 500 Post Offices across Northern Ireland.

A spokesperson said  “To support and minimise any inconvenience through the transition, the Bank will write to impacted customers in advance to tell them how to use alternative branches, services and transact at the Post Office.

“Branch staff will be available to help and advise, and customers can also telephone our dedicated helpline 0345 600 3749 9am – 5pm with any specific queries,”

 Head of First Trust Bank, Des Moore said:

 “Due to changing customer behaviours and trends and in particular the sizable shift from branch usage towards digital banking, First Trust Bank has undertaken an 18-month strategic review to plan how we best serve the needs of customers now and in the future.

“This included a review of all our customer service points including our branch network, with a view to reshaping for an efficient, effective and sustainable business.

 “Since 2010 we have seen almost a 40pc decline in branch usage coupled with a 117pc increase in mobile transactions over the past two years and we have had to make the difficult decision to close a number of branches.

“ We are also significantly extending the hours for our Direct Customer Contact Banking services, delivering enhanced online and mobile services, while also investing heavily in our remaining branch network.”

 “For our business customers, we are also creating, in addition to Belfast, five new specialist business centres across Northern Ireland…This will enhance and speed up local decision-making for our business customers while our new Small Business Centre, based in Belfast, will serve the needs of our small  business customers directly providing immediate, dedicated small business expertise.”

“We recognise that the pattern of how customers are managing their finances is rapidly evolving in Northern Ireland as it is across Europe.

“Customers are turning to online, telephone and mobile banking and it is essential that we respond,” he said.

“ The bank’s existing voluntary severance programme will be extended to impacted staff,” he added.


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