LISTEN - NI branches among 140 Santander banks to close

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Notice of closure at Belfast's Santander branch

by Q Radio News

Santander has announced plans to close more than 140 branches across the UK including, three in Northern Ireland.

The local branches affected are on the Newtownards road in Belfast, High Street in Antrim and Church Street in Ballymoney.

Notices placed on branch windows this morning show they'll close in May and June of this year.

The bank says the closures are in response to changes in how customers are choosing to carry out their banking, with more using the online services rather that in store.

The number of transactions carried out via Santander branches has fallen by 23% over the past three years, while transactions via digital channels have grown by 99% over the same period. 

Q Radio has been speaking to local customers in Belfast, to hear their reaction to the news: 

A spokesperson for the bank says 1,270 Santanders workers will be affected UK wide but it's hoped around a third of these can be redeployed: 

"Santander’s future branch network will be made up of a combination of larger branches offering improved community facilities to support local businesses and customers, and smaller branches using the latest technology to offer customers more convenient access to banking services.

"Santander has consulted its trade unions on the proposed changes and will seek to find alternative roles for the 1,270 colleagues affected wherever possible.

"Santander expects to be able to redeploy around a third of those affected and will be closely supporting colleagues over the coming weeks as the consultation process continues."

Santander says it will continue to support it's customers of closing branches by finding other ways to bank. 

That includes individual help to find alternative Santander branches and access digital, telephone and Post Office banking services.

Santander will retain a nationwide network of 614 branches following the proposed changes.

All Santander current and business account holders can also bank using one of over 11,000 Post Office branches across the UK.

In order to deliver a branch network for the future, 100 Santander branches will be refurbished over the next two years through an investment of £55m.

Susan Allen, Head of Retail and Business Banking, said: “The way our customers are choosing to bank with us has changed dramatically in recent years, with more and more customers using online and mobile channels.

"As a result, we have had to take some very difficult decisions over our less visited branches, and those where we have other branches in close proximity.

“We will support customers of closing branches to find alternative ways to bank with us that best suit their individual needs.

"We are also working alongside our unions to support colleagues through these changes and to find alternative roles for those impacted wherever possible.

“We continue to believe that branches have a vital role to play and we will be refurbishing 100 of our branches over the next two years.

"We are confident that following these changes we will have the right branch network to serve our customers’ changing needs, and we expect the size of our network to remain stable for the foreseeable future.”

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