Bank of Ireland to close High Street branch and relocate to Belfast head office
BANK of Ireland is to shut its Belfast High Street branch next summer and transfer all 15 staff to its headquarters site at Donegall Square South in the city centre.
The bank, which has closed eight branches in the last five years, says the decision has been taken to reflect a shift in customer footfall.
But it insisted there will be no job losses as a result of the relocation.
The bank's regional head of consumer banking William Thompson said: "We're delighted to be transferring to what we believe is both a favourable and popular location.
"The move reflects the shift we've seen in customer footfall and it’s important we respond to this and continue to adapt and grow our business in line with it."
He said Bank of Ireland UK customers can expect the new Belfast City branch to have "a modern, innovative and welcoming look and feel", and there will be enough space to host customer, community and business events.
The move will also strategically combine the bank’s retail presence with its business banking, corporate banking and support teams in a single location, providing what it says will be a "highly-modern, collaborative environment for customers, colleagues and communities".
Bank of Ireland has for more than a decade been the anchor tenant in the six-storey Middleton Building, which since September 2015 has been owned by SMC Property (NI) Ltd.
The closure reflects a continuing trend of banking consolidation across the north, where more than 100 branches have closed in the last decade.
In September research from consumer watchdog Which? found that nearly a third of all bank branches in the north shut in the period between January 2015 and August 2019, while dozens more slashed their opening hours.
Ulster Bank led the way with branch closures here, shutting 35 in the five-year period, equivalent to 44 per cent of its entire northern network.
First Trust closed half of its branches over the same period, leaving it with 15 outlets. Bank of Ireland closed eight (22 per cent), while the north’s biggest bank Danske closed just six.
Mr Thompson added: "We are committed to providing our customers with the right balance between a great digital service, a physical presence and face-to-face contact and to that end our branches continue to be an important part of our customer offering.
"We will be writing to our High Street customers and I hope they will share our excitement about our new flagship branch."