Ulster Bank prepares to leave George’s Quay HQ after two decades

Staff to be relocated to old College Green base and Leopardstown ‘in late 2019’

Ulster Bank’s HQ on George’s Quay: about 400 staff currently remain at the complex which the bank began to vacate in 2014. Photograph:  Tom Honan

Ulster Bank’s HQ on George’s Quay: about 400 staff currently remain at the complex which the bank began to vacate in 2014. Photograph: Tom Honan

 

Ulster Bank is preparing to quit its headquarters on George’s Quay in Dublin 2 after more than two decades and split its remaining staff in the complex between its old College Green base and Leopardstown, almost 10km south of the city centre.

The lender’s chief executive of almost two months, Jane Howard, informed staff in an internal email recently that Ulster Bank will make a “significant” investment in its Dublin-based properties, focusing on “regenerating our College Green and Central Park buildings”.

The latter refers to its Leopardstown building, to which Ulster Bank began transferring hundreds of staff four years ago as it scaled back its George’s Quay presence dramatically. The premises currently accommodates 500 employees.

Workforce

“Colleagues in our George’s Quay building will relocate to College Green or Central Park in late 2019 once the relevant fit outs and refurbishments have been completed,” Ms Howard said. “The property team will engage with each division over the coming weeks to understand their individual business needs and leaders will communicate the full detail to their teams by mid-February 2019.”

It is speculated that group executives will move to Ulster Bank’s landmark College Green building, which previously was its head office in the Republic. It dates back from the 1890s and has a floor area of 2,267sq m (45,939sq ft).

Ulster Bank, a unit of Royal Bank of Scotland, has reduced its workforce in the Republic from 3,472 to about 3,340 over the past decade as it sought to rein in costs after the financial crisis and a £15 billion (€16.9 billion) bailout from its parent. The company closed 22 branches last year, reducing its network to 88.

In late 2014, it began vacating two blocks at George’s Quay, where it had 1,000 empty desks, and consolidated its presence on the Liffey-side complex in one building, known as Block B, which currently accommodates about 400 staff.

Quit

Ms Howard, a former senior RBS executive in the United Kingdom, took over the position at the end of September, succeeding Gerry Mallon, who quit earlier this year after 18 months.

Ulster Bank said last month it had made a loss of €87 million in the third quarter of 2018, compared with a profit of €36 million during the same period the last year.

Operating expenses for the period increased by €47 million, or 33 per cent, on the year, principally due to higher litigation and conduct costs, largely relating to customer remediation and project costs associated with “legacy business issues”.

The bank also took a net impairment charge of €68 million included a provision for a further non-performing loan sale that it expects to materially reduce its “non performing exposure ratio”.