Business

Danske Bank shuts branches in Ballycastle, Comber, Kilrea and Strabane as move to digital hastens

The Danske Bank branch in Comber, which will close on December 4. Picture by Hugh Russell.
Gary McDonald Business Editor

DANSKE Bank is closing four more of its branches later this year as part of a further rationalisation.

Branches in Ballycastle, Comber, Kilrea and Strabane will serve customers face-to-face for the last time on December 4.

The bank said it has made the decision based on customer behaviour, with more people opting to bank online or use its app.

The changes come despite Danske chief executive Kevin Kingston, in an interview with the Irish News in April, insisting "the bank is committed to keeping its 40 branches open".

There will be no compulsory redundancies among staff as a result of the four branch closures, and customers have been told they do not need to take any action and their accounts remain unchanged.

Aisling Press, Danske Bank’s managing director of personal banking, said: “We shape our business around customer behaviour. In the last number of years the way customers use branches has changed significantly, so we must respond to these changes.

“This can mean reviewing and adapting our investment strategies, and sometimes it includes investing more in key branches, like the £3 million we've spent upgrading 15 branches across Northern Ireland over the past three years.

“Unfortunately at other times it means taking difficult decisions to close certain branches which are being used less, and we do not take these decisions lightly.”

She added: “We've written to affected customers to assure them we remain committed to continuing to meet their banking needs and to inform them about the many different ways to bank with us. But if any customers is concerned, I encourage them to speak with us and we will do everything we can to help them.”

Danske's decision is part of a sustained reduction in the number of bank branches operating across the north over the last decade in a change driven by the adoption of technology but also through the reduction in the use of cash.

Around 100 branches have been axed in the last decade across the Danske, Ulster Bank, Bank of Ireland and First Trust (no operating as AIB) networks amid the inexorable march towards digital banking.

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