HSBC to close branches in Omagh and Derry in summer

HSBC's decision to close its branches in Omagh and Derry in August will leave it with just three outlets in Northern Ireland.
HSBC's decision to close its branches in Omagh and Derry in August will leave it with just three outlets in Northern Ireland.

HSBC is to close its branches in Derry and Omagh this summer blaming a continuing shift to online banking among its customers.

It’s part of a cull of 69 branches across the UK, with around 400 workers thought to be affected.

The lender’s branch in The Diamond in Derry city is due to close on August 11, with the branch on Omagh’s Dublin Road following five days later.

It will leave HSBC with just three Northern Ireland branches in Belfast, Coleraine and Portadown.

Formerly known as Forward Trust Asset Finance, HSBC has maintained a presence in Northern Ireland for around 50 years.

But it was 2001 before it opened its first HSBC retail bank branch in Belfast.

It later expanded its small network to five.

But like many other lenders, HSBC has blamed the pandemic for accelerating the shift to digital banking.

It said less than 50 per cent of its customers now regularly use it branch network, with footfall dropping sharply over the past five years.

It’s just the latest lender to reduce its physical footprint in the north.

Both Bank of Ireland and AIB cut their northern bank networks in half last year.

AIB shut eight of its 15 branches, while Bank of Ireland went from 28 to 13 outlets.

Danske Bank also closed four of its Northern Ireland branches in 2021.

A spokesperson for HSBC said it hopes to redeploy all staff to roles within 15 miles of their homes.

But that could prove difficult for its Northern Ireland staff due to the geographical spread of its small operation here.

Jackie Uhi, head of HSBC UK's branch network, said: "The way people bank is changing - something the pandemic has accelerated.

"Our branches continue to support people with their more complex banking needs, but the way we can do this has also evolved, with the addition of banking hubs, community pop ups and continued use of the Post Office network.

"Rather than a one-size-fits-all branch approach, it's an approach built around the way different customers are choosing to bank in different areas.

"We know that the majority of our customers have a preference to do much of their day-to-day banking online or via mobile, so we're removing locations where we have another branch nearby, and where there is a significant reduction in customers using face-to-face branch servicing.

"This will enable us to invest in locations where our customers are continuing to utilise the branch network, including updating technology and refurbishing branches."

It said the move was part of a wider "transformation programme" which will see it launch community pop-ups, new self-service machines and digital support for customers.

The group will also refurbish branches in key locations, which it said will enable the bank to better support customers' digital banking needs.