Belfast Telegraph

Bank to close 9 branches

BoI says sites 'not sustainable' but vows no staff losses

By Clare Weir

Nine branches of Bank of Ireland are to close between May and June of this year, it has been announced.

The bank said that there will be no enforced job losses and staff will either be redeployed to other branches or can avail of an existing voluntary redundancy scheme.

The branches scheduled for closure are in Ballyclare, Ballymoney, Carrickfergus, Kilkeel, Kilrea, Larne and Rathfriland.

In Londonderry, Shipquay Street and Waterside branches will close and be amalgamated into the bank's main commercial branch at Strand Road.

The closures will reduce the number of Bank of Ireland UK branches in Northern Ireland from 44 to 35.

The bank said that the branches earmarked for closure account for around 7% of the business conducted by the network in Northern Ireland.

The branch network in the Republic is not affected by the announcement.

Bank of Ireland added that it is investing £10m in its branch network, including a refurbishment of 18 branches.

Sean Sheehan, regional manager for Northern Ireland, said that the bank has to ensure that the network is cost-effective and fit for purpose.

"We understand that closing branches is disappointing for those who use them but the volume of business at the branches involved means they are not sustainable in the long term," Mr Sheehan added. "The Northern Ireland marketplace is competitive and we must service our customers through a full range of contemporary and easily accessible channels.

"The changes we are making, particularly the investment in branches, are designed to help us develop our business in what is a core franchise for Bank of Ireland."

The branches will close during May to June 2013 and their activities will be merged into larger branches and Bank of Ireland will be writing to all affected customers detailing the changes that are taking place.

The news came as it emerged that Lloyds Bank is to axe more than 940 jobs, taking job loss announcements at the firm to 1,300 in the past few days. The cuts will occur in the group operations, insurance, retail, wealth and international and commercial divisions. Last week Ulster Bank identified 11 branches and sub-offices which it is due to close in Northern Ireland by this summer.