AIB to close more than half of its 15 Northern Irish branches

Bank had previously reduced the then network of 30 in 2017

The chief executive said he saw AIB more as a ‘challenger bank’ than a ‘pillar bank’ in an overbanked market in the region

The chief executive said he saw AIB more as a ‘challenger bank’ than a ‘pillar bank’ in an overbanked market in the region

 

AIB said on Tuesday that it will be closing eight of its remaining 15 branches in Northern Ireland, following hot on the heels of decisions by Bank of Ireland and Danske Bank to shut locations in the six counties.

The move comes two weeks after AIB chief executive Colin Hunt told the Oireachtas finance committee that the bank’s “physical locations” in the North were “under review” again, three years after it cut its network in the region from 30 branches in 2017.

The chief executive told the committee that he saw AIB more as a “challenger bank” than a “pillar bank” in an overbanked market in the region.

“We are operating in a very competitive and challenging landscape, with the added impacts of low interest rates and the pandemic. This backdrop coupled with the continued shift from branch usage towards digital banking has necessitated this strategic review,” said Brian Gillan, head of AIB’s retail division in the North.

Trends

“Since December 2017, we have witnessed an average 33 per cent reduction in the number of active customers using our branch network and a 52 per cent increase in digital online payments in the same period. These undeniable and irreversible trends have in turn influenced our strategy and led to the decision to close branches that are no longer sustainable.”

AIB said that it was “enhancing its successful partnership” with the Post Office in Northern Ireland, which has more than 500 branches. All of the AIB branches being closed by year-end are less than a mile from a post office, it said.

Bank of Ireland said in February that it was also cutting its Northern Irish network by more than half to 13 locations as part of a major branch cull across the island this year. It will also close 88 branches in the Republic from September to bring its high-street presence down to 169 outlets.

Meanwhile, Danske Bank, the biggest bank in Northern Ireland, said last week it was shutting four branches in that market in October in a move that will reduce its footprint to 32 locations.