Ballymena branch of Hughes Insurance set to close

Hughes Insurance has announced that its branch in Ballymena will be one of several offices due to close in April as part of the firm's operational restructure.

In a statement issued today the company said the local branch is one of six offices that will close, which will result in a total of 20 redundancies.

The firm blamed changes in consumers’ buying patterns for the restructure as customers were increasingly purchasing insurance policies online.

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As part of the operational restructure the business proposes six of its 11 regional branches will close alongside a restructure at the company headquarters in Newtownards.

Other office closures will include Ballynahinch, Lisburn, Magherafelt, Newry and Omagh.

The remaining branches – Coleraine, Derry, Glengormley, Portadown and Belfast – are earmarked for growth and will, the company says, maintain a strong regional presence for the brand in key regional locations alongside company headquarters in Newtownards.

Hughes Insurance has advised it will make every effort to avoid redundancies where possible and the majority of staff in affected branches will be offered the opportunity to relocate to company headquarters or one of the five unaffected branches.

Brian McDowell, Chief Executive of Hughes Insurance, said: “In a relatively short period of time consumer behaviour in the local insurance industry has changed considerably.

“90% of our customers deal with us either online or on the phone, with 50% of all our business originating online. As a result, we have witnessed a steady decline in branch footfall. Therefore, keeping our current branch network was unsustainable.

“It is regrettable that these potential branch closures may be necessary, but the reality is that we must keep pace with advances in market technology to support customer demand.”