AIB to close half of its 30 branches in Northern Ireland

AIB is closing half of its bank branches in Northern Ireland Ireland as part of a dramatic shake-up.

A total of 15 of its 30 branches are to shut down in the next six months. No further closures are planned in the Republic.

It is likely the closures will generate criticism in the North, where the shutdowns could become a political hot potato as the bank is 99.9pc owned by the Irish State.

And the closures may be viewed as a cost-cutting exercise ahead of a planned sale of 25pc of the bank due to happen as early as May or June.

By contrast, AIB has opened three outlets within the State since 2015, in Dublin and Cork.

First Trust Bank announced last night it has completed a strategic review and will introduce “a reshaping and investment programme designed to ensure a sustainable future for the bank and its customers, addressing the considerable shift in customer behaviour and their changing needs.”

The programme will involve “a significant £10m investment strategy for personal and business customers,” including five new business centres across Northern Ireland.

The bank has agreed a partnership with the Post Office in Northern Ireland that will enable customers to conduct their everyday banking transactions in any of the 500 Post Offices across Northern Ireland.

A spokesperson said “To support and minimise any inconvenience through the transition, the Bank will write to impacted customers in advance to tell them how to use alternative branches, services and transact at the Post Office.

“Branch staff will be available to help and advise, and customers can also telephone our dedicated helpline 0345 600 3749 9am – 5pm with any specific queries,”

Head of First Trust Bank, Des Moore said: “Due to changing customer behaviours and trends and in particular the sizable shift from branch usage towards digital banking, First Trust Bank has undertaken an 18-month strategic review… the bank’s existing voluntary severance programme will be extended to impacted staff.”
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