By Ryan McAleer
June 30 2018
Danske Bank has closed nearly half of its branches around Northern Ireland over the past eight years, it’s emerged.
The Danish-owned bank will have 42 branches left in October when it closes another two, in Larne and Ballynahinch.
In comparison, the lender had 82 branches in 2010. It’s part of an overall trend, which has seen 43% of all bank branches close in eight years.
Danske closed around three-dozen outlets between 2010 and 2014. None were closed during 2015 and 2016, but the bank shut another two last year.
In January this year the bank said it had no plans to close any more branches during 2018.
Yesterday the company’s managing director of personal banking and small business, Richard Caldwell, repeated that the way people use banks was changing.
“Many are now choosing to use different ways to bank with us, such as digital or telephone banking,” he said.
“As a business, we must respond to these changes, therefore priorities for investment will adapt and change.”
Ulster Bank will be the last remaining branch in Ballynahinch from October 12. First Trust left the town in 2013.
Danske Bank’s nearest branch will now be 5.4 miles away in Saintfield.
It said customers could avail of some services, including cash lodgements and withdrawals, from the Post Office.
The bank’s own assessment of its Ballynahinch branch revealed that 89% of its customers use it for personal banking, with more than half aged over 50.
For two-thirds of customers, it’s the only branch they use, with just 53% currently using digital services. Banking remains more diverse in Larne, with Ulster Bank, Halifax and Santander still retaining branches.
Danske Bank’s analysis shows that 92% of customers use its Larne branch for personal banking, with 74% indicating they don’t use any other outlets.
Almost one-third (31%) of customers are pensioners.
The closure leaves a journey of just under 12 miles to the nearest Danske branches in Ballyclare and Carrickfergus.
It’s understood the bank will seek to keep its ATM in both towns, with locations to be confirmed.
Mr Caldwell said Danske had carried out “transformational upgrades” in nine branches over the past two years.
However, he added: “On other occasions it means taking hard decisions to close branches. We do not take such decisions lightly. I have written to customers of the branches involved to assure them that we remain committed to continuing to meet their banking needs and to inform them about the many different ways to bank with us.
“Over the coming weeks we will be organising support sessions for any customers needing further guidance.
“If any of our customers are concerned, I would encourage them to speak to us. We will do everything we can to help them.”
East Antrim UUP MLA Roy Beggs said he was “shocked” by the announcement.
He said: “With recent reports of increased profits at Danske Bank, I fail to understand this decision which will adversely affect customers, and I have already arranged an urgent meeting with the bank questioning this decision and asking them to reconsider.”
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