Belfast Telegraph

Northern Bank to close four more rural branches

By Clare Weir

More branches of Northern Bank are to disappear from Northern Ireland's rural streets.

The firm has announced that Kesh, Castlederg, Fintona and Newtownstewart branches will close on a phased basis by the middle of June.

The Kesh and Fintona branches will close on June 8.

The accounts of customers in Kesh will move to the Irvinestown branch and accounts of customers of the Fintona branch will move to Omagh.

On June 15, Newtownstewart and Castlederg branches will close. The accounts of customers in both branches will move to Northern Bank's branch in Strabane.

No staff will be made redundant as a result of the branch closures.

The news comes weeks after the announcement that branches in Tandragee and Crossmaglen will cease trading on May 25.

In January, the closure of the Donaghadee, Ballyholme, Portrush and Portstewart branches were announced.

Last year Northern Bank closed six branches, in Dundonald, on Belfast's Ormeau and Dargan Road, and in Crossgar, Rathfriland and Whitehead.

The company has blamed the closures on changing consumer habits.

Tony Wilcox, managing director of retail and private banking with the company, said that the branches earmarked for the axe were found "less sustainable" than others.

"Increasingly, customers are turning to the efficiency and convenience of conducting their day to day banking over the telephone, online or through mobile banking on a smartphone," he said.

"Our industry, along with many others, is adapting to innovations in technology and we are responding to consumer expectations of a modern, progressive bank."

Northern Bank also announced that it is extending the services available to customers through the Post Office.

Currently, customers with card-based accounts can check the balance on their account and withdraw cash at any Post Office.

This spring, the service is being extended to include the facility to make personal or business cash and cheque lodgments.

Northern Bank is also extending the Saturday opening hours in its Omagh branch.

From Saturday June 23, the branch will be open on Saturdays from 9.30am-4.30pm.

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Northern Bank has closed six rural branches in just a few weeks

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