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Sunday 18 February 2018

Expert bumps up bank closures figure to 280

Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

EVEN more bank branches could close across the country than the 200 outlined yesterday, a leading academic said.

One in four bank branches are due to shut as AIB, EBS, Ulster Bank and Permanent TSB all plan to cut back their network of outlets.

There are some 843 branches here, once Bank of Ireland's network of 254 is included.

The massive shrinkage of the branch network will see the overall number of branches falling by around 200 to around 640, as detailed in this newspaper yesterday.

But Professor Eamonn Walsh of UCD Smurfit School of Business said the number of branches to go could be even higher at up to 280.

"If you are to use the UK benchmark then you end up saying that we have too many bank branches," he said.

"We are looking at 280 branch closures and there are going to be many more to follow because ultimately many customers are no longer using bank branches."

He explained that there was roughly one branch for every 5,000 people in Britain.

But in Ireland we have more branches with roughly one branch for every 4,000 people.

Using this logic would imply that 283 branches will close down, Prof Walsh said.

This would be the case if Bank of Ireland decides to reduce its branch network. It is the only domestic bank not to outline branch closure plans. And it has insisted that it has no plans to shut any outlets.

Online

The UCD academic said that one in five people use branches, but the rest were using online banking.

Head of banking union, the Irish Bank Officials Association, Larry Broderick, said it was inevitable there would be branch closures and he predicted the loss of 6,000 jobs from the branch cull.

It is understood that all the main banks, with the exception of Bank of Ireland, have outlined their branch closing moves to the Central Bank and the Department of Finance, while some of the plans have also been outlined to unions.

Irish Independent

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