10/07/2009

Northern Shuts Down Further Branches

A local bank is to increase the number of its recent branch closures.

The Northern Bank is shutting a further five branches in Northern Ireland in the next few months, having previously closed the same number of premises inside the past two years.

Three of the branches are in Belfast - located at Ballyhackamore, Castlereagh Road and Boucher Road - and two in rural areas - Garvagh and Aughnacloy.

They will all shut in September in a move that increases the numbers to ten inside just two years - coming on top of five other branch closures last year.

However, the Northern said there would be no job losses as a result of the latest round of closures.

It also insisted customers will still be well served with 83 branches of the Northern remaining open throughout Northern Ireland.

A statement from the Danish-owned bank said it does not represent a retreat from traditional high street banking.

Instead, it said that the industry was rapidly changing and customers expected many alternative services such as telephone and e-banking.
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A statement from the bank said that over the past two years as the banking industry and customers banking habits continue to change, it had taken decisions to merge a number of branches across the network to streamline resources.

"Five of these mergers have recently been announced and will take effect before the end of September this year. There have been no job losses as a result of these changes," the statement said.

"The closure of a local branch affects our local customers and communicating the changes and alternative services to them and the local community is always our key priority.

"We will always give our customers at least three months written notice and in that time we make it our top priority to work closely with them to meet their banking needs," the statement continued.

The spokesman also said that in November 2008, Northern Bank announced a £3 million investment programme to upgrade facilitates within its branch network.

"In September we extended the opening hours of all of our branches, many of which also open on Saturday mornings.

"Northern Bank customers with card based accounts can use any Post Office to withdraw cash and check the balance on their account at no extra cost and we continue to invest in our extensive ATM network to further support convenient local banking," the statement concluded.

(BMcC/JM)

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