Bank of Ireland to spend €10m on upgrading branch network

New initiatives include business incubator areas, 24-hour lodgements and event space

Gavin Kelly, Bank of Ireland director of distribution channels, said the bank reinvents branch space when counter activity declines. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Gavin Kelly, Bank of Ireland director of distribution channels, said the bank reinvents branch space when counter activity declines. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Bank of Ireland is planning to spend €10 million to upgrade its branch network this year. This includes opening a new branch in Cherrywood, south Dublin, an area that is set to undergo a major expansion of residential, office and retail space.

The bank has received planning approval from Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, and the new branch is due to open in September.

Bank of Ireland also plans to install 90 new external lodgement and ATM machines (eLATMs). This will mean that 80 per cent of its branches will have round-the-clock lodgement and withdrawal capabilities available to customers by the end of the year.

These have proven popular with small business owners, such as taxi drivers lodging receipts at night, and café operators lodging takings outside of branch hours.

The bank is also adding a third-party lodgement option to its eLATMs, which will allow customers to lodge funds to accounts other than their own by specifying the details on screen when completing the transaction. This is currently only available on Bank of Ireland’s internal machines.

Branches in Castlebar, Cobh, Kilkenny, Blanchardstown and Terenure are all set to be refreshed with enhanced internet facilities, while the bank’s branch in University College Cork is to be completely remodelled.

In addition, Bank of Ireland has added workbenches in branches in Cork and Limerick, which can be used by start-ups for free to get their businesses off the ground.

It is also planning a Startlab incubator space for new businesses at its Camden Street branch, and a community event space in upper Baggot Street in central Dublin.

Reinvention

Gavin Kelly, Bank of Ireland’s director of distribution channels, said this latest investment means that 75 per cent of its 250-strong branch network has been refurbished over the past two years.

And with just 3 per cent of its customers’ total transactions conducted over the counter, Mr Kelly said the reinvention of its branches would continue.

“When transaction levels in a branch drop below a certain level the easiest decision is to close it,” he said.

“However, we don’t believe that is the correct strategy. When we look at trends within an area and find a drop in counter activity, we reinvent the space within the branch.

“Sometimes that means moving staff onto the floor instead of behind a counter, providing support with devices and advice on mortgages, investments, and insurance. This has already worked successfully for us in many of our branches, where we have actually seen an increase in transactions following the changes.

“For much of their day-to-day banking – such as transferring money or checking a balance – customers want to bank fast. But if they are thinking of finance to grow their small business or farm, buying a home or a car. . . customers prefer easy and convenient access to a skilled adviser, and this is where the branches play a key role.”