Fulton Bank to close 14 branches, two in Lehigh Valley

By - Last modified: January 24, 2014 at 11:55 AM

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Lancaster-based Fulton Financial Corp., holding company of Fulton Bank, announced plans to close 14 of its bank branches by the end of the second quarter of the year.

The 14 closures — which includes a location in New Jersey that closed Dec. 31 — will affect about 60 to 70 jobs, according to Laura J. Wakeley, Fulton's senior vice president for corporate communications.

The cuts include two branches in the Lehigh Valley through one of Fulton Financial's subsidiaries, Lafayette Ambassador. They are the Hanover Township and State Road Emmaus branches. Accounts there will move to the Bath Pike and Chestnut Street branches, respectively.

The company also plans to cut some minor employee benefits and cuts its regional presidents from 16 to 10, according to E. Philip Wenger, the company's chairman, president and CEO. The total savings from the cuts in 2014 will be about $8 million, he said.

During a conference call with analysts this week, Wenger said the branch consolidations were specific to locations that had other branches nearby. Wakeley said the closed branches are within about a maximum of 1.5 miles to the next-closest branch.

"We just don't need branches as close together as we did in the past ... because more and more people are banking electronically," Wenger said.

The company already had cut one branch in New Jersey, plans to close two more in that state, then close five locations in Maryland.

Wakeley said the company will try to place as many of the affected employees at different locations as it can.

"There is a fair amount of turnover in retail branches," she said, but added it's unlikely all affected employees will be placed at open branches.

The bank will go from 16 to 10 regional presidents who will cover the 21 regions of the bank's territory with its 262 current branches.

Of the six presidents cut, four have been reassigned to different positions in the company, and two retired but have stayed with the company in advisory roles, Wakeley said.

One of the president positions cut came through a consolidation of the Harrisburg and York regions, Wakeley said.

The benefits being reduced include the cut of a survivor's income benefit, which hadn't been offered generally at the company for years, Wakeley said. A few dozen employees, however, had been grandfathered into keeping the benefit.

The company also reduced the number of paid-time-off days that can be carried over from one year to the next that will affect nearly all employees. That change will take effect in 2015 so employees can plan for it.

Fulton Financial Corp. trades on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol FULT.

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