National Irish Bank to close retail banking network28/06/2012 - 16:59:51
National Irish Bank (NIB) is to close its network of 27 branches around the country as part of a major restructuring of its business, it was announced this evening.
The move will see the bank lay off 100 staff on a voluntary basis, NIB said.
The branch closures will be completed by mid-November, at which time NIB said it will convert nine locations to what it called 'Personal Banking Units', which will provide financial advisors but no transaction services.
The units will be located in Waterford, Athlone, Cork, Limerick, Letterkenny and across Dublin in the IFSC, Tallaght, Swords and Stillorgan.
NIB, owned by Denmark's Danske Bank, previously shut down 25 locations in December 2009.
The bank said it wants to move away from an "unsustainable and transaction-based banking business model" for personal and small business customers.
Lodgement facilities will be available through An Post, while a new Personal Banking Centre will be opened to assist customers by phone.
NIB will also be rebranded to Danske Bank.
It said the changes will not affect the day-to-day running of customer accounts.
“The Irish banking landscape has changed dramatically in recent years and the traditional branch model is no longer the cornerstone of personal banking," said NIB spokesman Jesper Nielsen.
"We have recognized this and are building a new business model which responds to changing customer needs, leverages our market-leading technology and develops a profitable model and sustainable business for the bank.
"More and more customers want to conduct their banking business by telephone, Smartphone or over the internet as they do for other day-to-day lifestyle needs," Mr Neilsen added.
"Anticipating future banking trends, our new model offers customers a service based on a combination of superior technology and advisory services available on the customer’s terms."
However the Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA) said it was "appalled" at the announcement, saying today was "the blackest day in the history of National Irish Bank".
"The decision to shut down the bank’s remaining 20 branches is totally at variance with the commitments given by Danske Bank as late as May and subsequently made at the time of the Bank’s announcement on its restructuring in Ireland," said IBOA General Secretary Larry Broderick.
Mr Broderick said the proposed closure of the branch network will have huge implications for staff and their families.
“While our primary responsibility is to our members in National Irish Bank, we also have serious concerns about the impact of the Bank’s proposed changes on customers," he added.
"Recent events elsewhere in the financial services sector have demonstrated quite clearly how dangerous it is to put all your eggs in the IT basket by adopting a business model that minimised the crucial role of branch staff in building and maintaining relationships with customers.”
Mr Broderick said the IBOA was seeking an urgent meeting with the Chief Executive of Danske Bank in Copenhagen, as well as the Danish Financial Regulator.
"The Union is also writing to the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the Minister for Finance, since this development highlights, once again the need for a comprehensive job strategy for the financial services sector," he added.
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