Belfast Telegraph

Ulster Bank adding to Northern Ireland branch closures with cuts in Republic

By John Mulgrew

Ulster Bank has announced it is cutting 22 branches in the Republic just days after it was revealed nine locations would be axed in Northern Ireland.

Parent company Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) also announced it would close 150 of its branches, including those under the NatWest brand, resulting in hundreds of job losses after a "dramatic shift" in banking.

The decision will affect 30 RBS and 128 NatWest branches. It is thought that around 470 jobs will be lost.

But in the Republic, around 220 jobs are to go, along with a raft of closures, including many in rural areas.

Earlier this month, the Belfast Telegraph revealed Ulster Bank was cutting nine branches across Northern Ireland. It is also axing around 10 jobs at its local brokerage team.

Ulster Bank chief executive Gerry Mallon, the former head of Danske Bank in Northern Ireland, said that as well as doubling the number of mobile banks, the lender planned to introduce a number of community banks in the Republic.

He added: "These changes include the closure of 22 branches.

"Our branch network remains an important part of how we serve our customers.

"However, the role of the branch continues to move toward advice and away from day-to-day transactions.

"Only 10% of our customer interactions now happen in branches."

Most of the branch closures in the Republic are in smaller towns, but five are also set to go in Dublin.

In Northern Ireland, meanwhile, Ulster Bank is closing nine branches in October.

They include banks on the Antrim Road, Woodstock Road, Boucher Road and Newtownbreda in Belfast, Kircubbin in Co Down, Bangor Main Street, Garvagh and Monkstown in Co Antrim and Ulster Bank's Londonderry branch close to the Millennium Forum.

Speaking about its branch closures in the Great Britain, RBS - headed by Ross McEwan - said it had considered branch usage and the alternative ways customers can bank before coming to the decision.

A spokesman added: "We have seen a dramatic shift in the way our customers are choosing to bank, with more using mobile and online over traditional branch counters.

"Simple transactions undertaken in branch at NatWest and RBS have fallen by 43% since 2010, while online and mobile transactions have increased by more than 400%."

Around 770 staff will be affected by the closures, but 300 will be moved to other jobs.

Belfast Telegraph