Belfast Telegraph

First Trust claims jobs are secure in shake-up

By Lesley Houston

First Trust has set it out its latest plans to slim down its bank branch network but said it won’t make any compulsory redundancies.

Six branches of the high street bank have been earmarked for the axe as the wider effects of the economic downturn and the growth of online banking continue apace.

First Trust attribute the closures to “an ongoing restructuring programme”.

It confirmed two branches in Belfast, at Cregagh Road and Fortwilliam, will close alongside branches in Holywood, Co Down, Ballyclare and Larne in Co Antrim, and Limavady in Co Londonderry.

The closures will take place over a phased basis by the end of June but the bank has stressed the 47 members of staff affected by the news will either be redeployed within the network or be offered voluntary severance packages.

A spokesman confirmed there will be no compulsory redundancies but could not rule out further closures in the future.

The Cregagh branch will be the first due to shut up shop on May 17, with Ballyclare following suit on May 24.

Limavady will close on May 31, Larne on June 14, Holywood on June 21, with Fortwilliam being the final one to close on June 28.

The business of the doomed branches will be transferred to the nearest branch.

The closures follow a similar blow to customers of Danske Bank who earlier this week discovered three branches in Co Down will wind up.

First Trust Managing Director Gerry McGinn said: “Regrettable as they are, the closures are part of an ongoing strategy to bring the bank back to a sustainable operating model.

“Like all retail businesses, we must constantly review our costs in order to move forward as a more streamlined and sustainable organisation.”

Business carried out at the Cregagh branch will be taken over by staff at the Knock branch, while transactions in Holywood will be assumed by Bangor staff.

Responsibility for business in Limavady will transfer to Crescent Link in Derry's Waterside, Larne to Carrickfergus and Fortwilliam to Glengormley.

A helpline is to be offered to customers to answer queries on the transfer of their accounts.

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