Ulster Bank to close 14 branches next March

Some 47 jobs are affected but bank says it plans no more closures in 2015

Ciarán Hancock, Finance Correspondent

Ulster Bank plans to close 14 branches in the Republic next March as part of the latest round of its consolidation here.

Staff were informed of the bank’s plans on Friday and informed that no other branches would close in 2015.

It is understood that 47 roles are affected and the bank expects redundancies to be on a voluntary basis within its existing agreement with trade unions.


While bank staff will be given the opportunity to redeploy to other roles within the group, there will be some job losses.

The Irish Bank Officials Association said it was “disappointed” by the closures.

“Job losses are never welcome - especially at a time of high unemployment,” said IBOA general secretary Larry Broderick. “However, we note management’s commitment to ensure that any job reductions will be implemented on a voluntary basis with no necessity for compulsory redundancies.”

The union is also seeking confirmation from Ulster Bank’s management that the latest tranche of closures will be the last for the “foreseeable future”.

These latest closures will bring the number of Ulster Bank branches in the Republic down to 111, and to 175 across the island.

Separately, The Irish Times has learned that Ulster Bank is in advanced negotiations with An Post to secure a deal that would allow its customers to access certain cash and cheque services through post offices around the country from early next year.

An Post has similar arrangements with other Irish banks, notably AIB. This would allow Ulster Bank customers to lodge and withdraw cash from their accounts and conduct some other routine over-the-counter transactions.

In a statement, the bank said: “Banking has changed significantly over the last few years as more and more of our customers are using digital technology to bank with us where and when it is convenient for them, As a result, only 13 per cent of transactions happen in branches in the Republic of Ireland.

“The decision to close any branch is made on a case-by-case basis, based on local information and we continue to invest in a range of channels to respond to how our customers prefer to do their banking.

“We have written to customers of these branches to inform them of alternative branch locations in their area and the range of banking services available on their mobiles, online and by telephone. We are also communicating directly with staff.

“While we keep our points of presence under constant review in response to customer behaviour, we currently have no further plans to reduce our branch numbers in 2015.”

This has been a busy year for Ulster Bank. In July, it announced that 15 branches and sub offices across the island would close by the end of November. In August, it accepted the recommendations of an independent mediator on an “organisational change agreement” out to the end of 2016.

The bank has also returned to profit this year - its operating profit was €485 million in the third quarter - for the first time since the financial crash in late 2008 while its parent company Royal Bank of Scotland recently committed to Ulster Bank in the Republic following a strategic review that looked at a possible sale and mergers with other banks here.

Ulster Bank employs about 5,600 staff on the island but has flagged its intention to reduce this to between 4,000 and 4,500 over time.

Affected branches
Athboy, Co Meath - services move to Trim branch
Ballinrobe, Co Mayo - services move to Castlebar branch
Ashbourne, Co Meath - services move to Swords (Dublin) branch
Athy, Co Kildare - services move to Carlow branch
Castleblaney, Co Monaghan - services move to Monaghan branch
Castlerea, Co Roscommon - services move to Roscommon branch
Clones, Co Monaghan - services move to Monaghan branch
Croom, Co Limerick - services move to Dooradoyle branch
Ferbane, Co Offaly, - services move to Athlone branch
Loughrea, Co Galway - services move to Athenry branch
Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim - services move to Sligo branch
Moville, Co Donegal - services move to Buncrana branch
Roscrea, Co Tipperary - services move to Nenagh branch
Wicklow, Co Wicklow - services move to Bray branch

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock is Business Editor of The Irish Times