BoI chief says there are no plans to shut any branches
BANK of Ireland (BoI) yesterday insisted it had no plans to close branches as part of its restructuring plan and may even open a few new ones over the coming years as it repositions itself.
The bank refused to give further detail on the jobs outlook following the recent announcement of 750 cuts, but said it "continues to review costs on an ongoing basis".
Chief executive Richie Boucher also insisted that the Irish market will remain "competitive" over the coming years, and refused to cast BoI as a "price maker".
Announcing half-year losses of €2bn last week, AIB had confirmed that it was reviewing its branch network as it seeks a return to profitability.
Asked if BoI would follow suit, Mr Boucher yesterday replied: "No".
He explained: "We see the branch network as an extremely important part of our distribution. We have about 250 branches and I don't see that changing.
"If anything, we could be opening some new branches."
In July, BoI announced plans to cut 750 staff over the next two years in the Republic, the North and Britain.
Mr Boucher yesterday refused to detail how many of the cuts would be in the Republic, saying the bank had not yet engaged with staff representatives. Bank of Ireland has shed more than 2,250 staff by natural attrition since March 2008.
The restructured BoI will also have sold its life-insurance arm New Ireland, its asset-management arm BIAM and the mortgage arm ICS.
Mr Boucher said "several" interested parties had been given access to information on BIAM, with a deal possible by the end of the year.
Both ICS and New Ireland are deeply integrated in the BoI group and it will take significant work to disentangle them.
Mr Boucher said neither was likely to be sold "in the current calendar year".
He said the bank had also "been successfully" renegotiating its outsourcing contracts.
"I don't think we'll be going into significant further outsourcing," he said, stressing that BoI has "learned what not to outsource".
The cost-cutting plan could also see the group's head office footprint shrink from 16 buildings now to "six or seven" buildings in a five-year time-frame, Mr Boucher said. Two years ago, BoI's team was scattered across 32 head-office locations.