Business

Three Santander branches in the north to close as part of UK-wide cull

Three Santander branches in Northern Ireland are part of the 140 in the UK due to close this year

AS many as 30 jobs are at risk in Northern Ireland after Santander announced a slew of UK branch closures.

The bank has confirmed that three of its outlets in Belfast, Antrim and Newtownards are among 140 due to close this year.

Santander said the move is a result of changing customer patterns and is consulting with unions to find alternative roles for the UK 1,270 employees affected. It expects to redeploy about a third across the group.

Following the closures, Santander will retain a network of 614 branches, of which 22 are in Northern Ireland.

The three local branches earmarked for closure will cease operations by June. The Belfast branch on the Newtowards Road will close on June 20, while the Antrim outlet on High Street will cease operations on May 30.

The Church Street site in Ballymoney will shut its doors on May 16.

The branch closures come as the number of transactions carried out at Santander branches fell by 23 per cent over the past three years, while transactions online and on mobile phones have soared by 99 per cent.

The bank said that it will also spend £55 million refurbishing 100 branches over the next two years, which will include a "focus on personal service, convenience and community engagement".

Susan Allen, head of retail and business banking at Santander said they are reacting to changing customer trends.

"The way our customers are choosing to bank with us has changed dramatically in recent years, with more and more customers using online and mobile channels.

"As a result, we have had to take some very difficult decisions over our less visited branches, and those where we have other branches in close proximity."

"We will support customers of closing branches to find alternative ways to bank with us that best suit their individual needs. We are also working alongside our unions to support colleagues through these changes and to find alternative roles for those impacted wherever possible," she continued.

When asked about the prospect of further closures in the future, Ms Allen said the bank expects the size of its branch network to "remain stable for the foreseeable future".

Figures released last year showed that the four indigenous banks in the north have reduced their branch footprint by almost half from around 250 a decade ago to just 129. Ulster Bank has the biggest presence in Northern Ireland with 44 branches followed by Danske on 42, Bank of Ireland (28) and First Trust (15).

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