Ulster Bank announce plans to close 10 branches in Northern Ireland
Ulster Bank has announced plans to close 10 branches in Northern Ireland with the loss of 21 jobs.
The NatWest-owned lender has confirmed it will begin closing the branches from February 2024, reducing its northern network to 25 locations.
It comes just over a year after Ulster Bank closed nine branches in the north.
Branches on the closure list include: Ballynahinch, Crumlin, Downpatrick, Glengormley, Kings Road (Belfast), Lisnaskea, Lurgan, Ormeau Road (Belfast), University Road (Belfast) and Waterside (Derry).
The Financial Services Union (FSU) said the announcement came as a shock to its members, who it said "are still reeling" from the loss of around 350 jobs in the north linked to Ulster Bank's withdrawal from the Republic.
Alongside the redundancies, the FSU expects around 30 staff to be relocated to other branches.
- North lost 27 per cent of total bank branch network in three years
- 'Difficult day' for Ulster Bank staff as 813 face redundancy - including 250 in Northern Ireland
- Ulster Bank confirms plans for another nine branch closures
Mandy LaCombre, a senior industrial relations officer at the banking union said: "The closure of branches will result in losses of jobs, reduced in person banking services for communities, business, and those most in need of financial advice and support.
"The FSU will campaign vigorously against these closures and will continue to meet with the bank to minimise redundancies and to save jobs.”
The cuts follow an ongoing trend across the sector as customers increasingly embrace digital banking.
Halifax closed its Lurgan branch last month, while Barclays this week announced its Coleraine and Newry sites will close in February 2024.
It follows the closure of Barclays' Lisburn and Portadown branches in July.
The latest round of planned branch cuts will bring the total number of bank closures in Northern Ireland to almost 50 since the start of 2021.
In some cases, such as Ballynahinch, Lisnaskea and Crumlin, Ulster Bank is the last remaining retail bank in the town or village.
Ulster Bank said the average counter transactions are down by 53% on 2019 levels, while use of mobile apps had increased by 45% over the same period.
The latest closures come six months after NatWest announced 250 redundancies in Northern Ireland as part of Ulster Bank’s withdrawal process from the Republic.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Ulster Bank said: “As with many industries, most of our customers are shifting to mobile and online banking, because it’s faster and easier for people to manage their financial lives.
“We understand and recognise that digital solutions aren’t right for everyone or every situation, and that when we close branches we have to make sure that no one is left behind.
“We take our responsibility seriously to support the people who face challenges in moving online, so we are investing to provide them with support and alternatives that work for them.
“We will be investing over £3m across our branch network in the next two years, following £3.25m of investment in 2023.
“We will be making no further changes to our branch network until at least 2026.”
LIST OF ULSTER BANK BRANCH CLOSURES BY DATE:
- Ormeau Road (Belfast), 20 Feb 2024
- Kings Road (Belfast), 21 Feb 2024
- Waterside, 27 February 2024
- Ballynahinch, 28 Feb 2024
- Lurgan, 5 March 2024
- Lisnaskea, 6 March 2024
- University Road (Belfast), 12 March 2024
- Glengormley, 13 March 2024
- Crumlin, 20 March 2024
- Downpatrick, 19 November 2024