Barclays to reduce NI operation to a single branch, as Ulster Bank commence first of 10 planned closures

Exterior street shot of a Barclays retail branch.
The Barclays branch on Bangor's Main Street, which will close on May 17 2024.

Barclays will cut its Northern Ireland presence to cut just a single branch within weeks.

The lender is set to close its retail bank on Bangor’s Main Street on May 17.

Barclays closed its Newry branch last Friday (February 16), with its Coleraine outlet due to close this Friday (February 23).

It will leave the branch on Belfast’s Castle Place as the sole Barclay’s retail outlet in Northern Ireland.

It comes as Ulster Bank today begin the closure of ten branches around the north.

The shutters are due to come down on the Ormeau Road branch in Belfast on Tuesday (February 20), with the branch on King’s Road, east Belfast, closing on Wednesday (February 21).

Ulster Bank branches in Derry’s Waterside and Ballynahinch will close next week, with another five shutting in March: Lurgan (March 5), Lisnaskea (March 6), Belfast University Road (March 12), Glengormley (March 13) and Crumlin (March 20).

The closure of Ulster Bank’s Downpatrick branch is pencilled in for November 19 2024.

It will leave the Natwest-owned lender with 25 branches in Northern Ireland, taking to 19 the number of outlets it has closed in the past three years.

Barclays’ closure in Bangor will bring to six the number of branches it has closed in the past three years.

The company opened its first corporate banking office at Belfast in 1996.

It extended its retail banking presence into the north during 2000 after acquiring Woolwich PLC, with the branches eventually converted to Barclays branding after 2007.

The closures come as Barclays published full-year financial results on Tuesday, which showed declining profits.

It made a pre-tax profit of £6.6 billion over 2023, 6% lower than the previous year and a slightly bigger drop than analysts were expecting.

The bank announced on Tuesday that it will seek to find £2 billion in efficiency savings over the next two years.

Split image of two Barlcays branches in (left) Newry and (right) Coleraine.
Barclays' branch on Newry's Hill Street closed on February 16, while its Coleraine branch is due to close on February 23.

Danske Bank is also due to close four of its branches in June 2024.

While powers over banking are reserved by London, the Financial Services Union (FSU) responded to the latest round of closures by urging the new Finance Minister Caoimhe Archibald to urgently reconvene the banking forum previously arranged by her predecessor Conor Murphy.

More than one week on, the Department of Finance has yet to respond to the union’s call.

The FSU has also called on the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to do more to stop the rate of branch closures.

The FCA gained new powers last year under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2023, it fell short of granting the regulator powers to prevent bank branches from closing.

However, the FCA has proposed new rules, which it says will put an onus on banks and building societies to assess and plug gaps in local cash provision.