Northern Ireland

First Trust bank to close four branches in Northern Ireland

First Trust sign
Image caption First Trust said the closures will not involve any compulsory redundancies

The First Trust bank is to close four branches in Northern Ireland by November, but said it will not involve any compulsory redundancies.

The branches are Stormont, Finaghy, Ballynahinch and Ballymoney.

Customers affected will receive a letter explaining that their accounts will be automatically transferred to the nearest alternative branch.

The bank said staff will either move to other branches or be offered voluntary redundancy.

Des Moore, First Trust Bank's head of customers, said: "Like all retail organisations, we must constantly review our costs to move forward as a sustainable organisation.

'Extremely disappointed'

"As customer habits change and more choose to bank online, we have seen a marked decline in branch usage, making some locations unsustainable."

The bank worker's union, the IBOA, said it was "extremely disappointed at the proposal by First Trust bank to close four of its branches".

IBOA's general secretary, Larry Broderick, said he was "also concerned that these proposals may be the first in a series".

He said First Trust has "advised IBOA that it intends to seek an overall reduction in headcount across its retail network, in the wake of reduced business volumes in recent years".

The closures come a day after Ulster Bank said it was closing 39 branches across the island of Ireland and cutting its workforce by almost one third.

Mr Broderick added: "This announcement from First Trust bank adds to the growing list of branch closures among the major retail banks in Northern Ireland - over 80 branches have already been closed in response to the banking crisis.

"In light of yesterday's announcement from Ulster Bank, we are not in a position to say that this will be the last."