Irish exporters may relocate operations to UK – Boucher

Irish companies selling into the British market may opt to move some operations to the UK as a result of Brexit, Bank of Ireland chief executive Richie Boucher has said.

Mr Boucher told the Finance Committee that he was “surprised” by how little impact the vote had so far had on Ireland and the UK. There have been effects on some sectors already, including small exporters, mortgage customers who commute across the Border or to London, he said. Dublin commercial property and some other areas may benefit from Brexit, but he believes the overall impact for Ireland will be negative.
“You could see some people move from what are called technical hedges, buying their sterling forward, to looking at structural hedging, buying more raw materials in sterling, or indeed relocating parts of their business to the UK to service that economy,” Mr Boucher said. “So I do think there will be a negative impact from Brexit on our economy.”

Last month the lender said that the fall in the pound impacts its sterling profits, but added activity in the UK has remained “resilient” despite the vote.
Mr Boucher was also quizzed about rural branch banking and accessibility for elderly people.

Liam McLoughlin, who runs the bank’s retail unit in Ireland, said the bank has 250 branches and have closed no rural branches in the last five years.
But he said the amount of across-the-counter transactions were low. “Transactions across the counter at branches now account for 4pc of transactions that we do. There is a significant reduction in cash and cheque activity taking place based on customer behaviour. There is a significant move towards digital activity,” Mr McLoughlin said.

“Our experience has been with elderly customers they are very familiar, in the majority, using the machines.”

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