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Bank of Ireland cuts could hit NI jobs and branches


Bank of Ireland plans to cut more than 1,400 posts

Bank of Ireland plans to cut more than 1,400 posts

Bank of Ireland plans to cut more than 1,400 posts

Bank of Ireland branches and jobs in Northern Ireland could be under threat after it said it planned to cut more than 1,400 posts from its UK and Ireland operations.

The bank, one of Ireland's 'big four', has 29 branches here.

It's understood the bank is undertaking a general strategic review of its loss-making UK activities.

At present it has just under 10,400 employees across its UK and Ireland operations.

It is now aiming to bring that number down to below 9,000. In 2008 the bank had 16,000 staff.


Interview: Francesca McDonagh

Interview: Francesca McDonagh

Interview: Francesca McDonagh

Speaking to the Dublin-based Business Post, Bank of Ireland chief executive Francesca McDonagh said: "We don't have a prejudged assumption of the outcome of the review.

"That is work we are doing in the coming months and we will give an update with our result in the new year.

"We regularly do strategic reviews of our businesses to invest in and in others we cut back.

"The likelihood of us allocating more capital to Northern Ireland is less probable."

The bank's loan book here stood at £2.5bn at the end of June, the paper reported.

The British market has proved difficult for the bank in recent years, Ms McDonagh acknowledged.

"It's a highly competitive market, with very low interest rates. And Covid-19 and a contracting economic outlook means we do need to go a bit further," she added.

Bank of Ireland's most recent financial results released last week saw its UK arm make a loss of £145m in the six months to June 2020.

In the same period a year ago it had made a profit of some £80m.

Ms McDonagh said it would now be concentrating on reducing costs.

"We are going to lend less in the standard mortgage area, which is where we see the most intense competition, and we will pivot and be more focused on segments of lending that are less well-served by some of the bigger banks, in particular bespoke mortgages, car finance and travel money, and we will continue to take out costs," she said.

However, its existing joint ventures with the UK Post Office and the Automobile Association are to be retained, the chief executive added.

The bank supplies financial services such as personal loans to AA members, and offers a wide range of products such as savings, loans and mortgages through UK post offices.

It's believed the changing ways in which people use banking services has helped prompt the internal review.

In 2011, 9% of Bank of Ireland's customers used the self-service machines in its branches, but by 2015 this had risen to 70%.

Customers want banks to have branches, but they are also increasingly choosing to bank online.

According to Bank of Ireland's annual report for 2019, over 60% of personal loan applications were made by people using mobile phones, with the bank experiencing a "rapid acceleration in digital transactions by our customers".

Belfast Telegraph