THE closure of Bank of Scotland Ireland’s 44 Halifax branches has been heralded as a huge blow for Irish borrowers, as strong competition has been removed from the banking sector.
Commenting on the closure, which has resulted in the loss of 750 jobs, financial guru Eddie Hobbs suggested the move would make for a much tougher borrowing environment.
Mr Hobbs said Halifax, which announced it was closing all its branches in Ireland yesterday, acted as the Ryanair of the banking sector and arguably saved Irish homeowners billions by driving mortgages to historic lows.
“The ‘Halifax effect’ will make the big squeeze on Irish banking even worse. This is a very bad day for Ireland,” he said.
The move effectively halves the group’s workforce here and leaves just 850 employees at its business banking operation and over 100,000 customers with question marks over what to do with their deposits.
The closure of the retail branches, from the end of May to July, follows a strategic review by management aimed at restructuring the Irish business to reflect “the continuing very difficult economic environment”.
The bank said all customers who hold current, savings and credit cards accounts should start looking for a new bank as these accounts will be closed in May. It said any customers that hold mortgage accounts should not worry as these accounts will remain open.
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