Santander has confirmed that it is planning to close its agency in Ballyclare.
The bank said that it took the decision to consolidate its retail operations into its proprietary branches following a strategic review of its network across the UK.
The agency, based in the Financial Foresight office on Main Street, provides limited banking services under licence and Santander’s branding. Its closure could lead to the loss of five jobs.
Confirming that Santander has “served notice” on the agency, Steve Pateman, the bank’s Head of UK Banking, said that the decision to consolidate retail operations had been made in response to financial challenges in maintaining the third party network.
“With enhancements in mobile banking, internet capability and the improvements we have made to our proprietary branches, we have a distribution capability that allows our customers to bank with us, in the way they want, when they want.
“Part of enabling customers to choose how they deal with us is making sure that all of our retail branches offer full banking. Consolidating our operations is a vital next step for Santander, allowing us to concentrate further enhancements to proprietary branches.”
Mr Pateman stressed that Santander will be working with the agency owner “to ensure a smooth exit from the agreement.”
Tennielle McIlroy, who runs Financial Foresight where the Santander agency is based, said that she and her staff are “gutted” by the bank’s decision.
“We are a very busy agency and we have very loyal customers here, so we are absolutely devastated to be closing. The decision has been taken by Santander and it’s outside our control, but we have to stand by their decision.”
She stressed that Financial Foresight will remain open.
While no date has yet been finalised for the agency’s closure, it’s understood that it could happen within the next few months.
Santander is the latest bank to announce its withdrawal from Ballyclare. The town’s First Trust and Bank of Ireland branches have both closed in recent years.
Alison Thompson, president of Ballyclare Chamber of Trade, expressed her disappointment at the bank’s decision to close its local outlet, but urged customers to keep supporting the agency.
“Ballyclare is one of the busiest agencies in the UK and hopefully in the future there may be a Santander branch opened here. If people continue to support the agency then Santander might be persuaded to keep a presence in the town,” she said.
Santander has written to customers advising them that it will stop providing banking services through the Ballyclare agency “later this year”. But the company has stressed that it is “business as usual” in the meantime.
The nearest Santander branch for customers in Ballyclare is located at Farmley Road, Glengormley.