Belfast Telegraph

Half of First Trust Bank branches shut in the last five years

First Trust Bank has closed half of its branches in Northern Ireland in the past five years, according to a consumer group
First Trust Bank has closed half of its branches in Northern Ireland in the past five years, according to a consumer group

By Vicky Shaw

First Trust Bank has closed half of its branches in Northern Ireland in the past five years, according to a consumer group.

The bank, owned by Allied Irish Banks, had 30 branches in 2015 but is now left with just 15, research by Which? found.

Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland has closed 35 branches in the same time period, 44% of its total outlets.

The closures were significantly higher than the overall bank branch closures in Northern Ireland, which stands at 29%.

Danske Bank closed six branches over the past five years, which is just 13% of their total number.

The figures were revealed as it was announced that around a third of the UK's bank branches have shut within the past five years. Hundreds more which remain open have slashed their opening hours, with some just open for one or two days a week.

There were 3,303 bank branch closures, equating to 34% of the network, between January 2015 and August 2019, Which? said.

Sign In

The network has reduced in size from 9,803 branches to 6,549 over the period, with the number of closures being slightly offset by 49 branches also opening.

Of the UK's bank branches that remain open, 298 are now operating with reduced opening hours of four days a week or less.

Eleven of these branches - all in Scotland - open for just one day a week, while 45 branches nationwide open for just two days per week.

The shrinking branch network has been driven by a wave of closures by major high street names.

Which? said NatWest - part of the RBS Group - closed 638 branches, while sister bank RBS has shut 412 - equating to 74% of its UK branches.

By contrast, the Nationwide Building Society has retained an "impressive" 96% of its branches.

Jenny Ross, Which? money editor, said: "Banks are closing their branches at an alarming rate, which risks shutting many people out of vital financial services and affecting their ability to access their own cash.

"Bank branches play a crucial role within communities, by serving consumers and businesses alike.

"The industry must ensure no-one is left behind by the digital transition and that when banks shut their doors, they don't shut their customers out of important banking services."

Which? said it used several sources to record the data.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular