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Bridge to close 6 branches as app, other technology picks up

Bridge Bancorp, the parent company of Bridgehampton National

Bridge Bancorp, the parent company of Bridgehampton National Bank, will close six of its 44 branches in the first quarter of 2018. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Bridge Bancorp, the parent company of Bridgehampton National Bank, said it will close six of its 44 branches in the first quarter of 2018.

The employees impacted will be given priority for job openings throughout the company, the bank said.

Bridge didn’t say which branches would close or how many employees could be let go.

The closings “will be in areas where we have multiple branches,” CEO Kevin O’Connor said Thursday. “For instance, we have two branches in Melville. We also have a branch in Center Moriches and in East Moriches.”

O’Connor said more customers are utilizing the bank’s mobile app and other technologies to access services, which has led to less foot traffic at some branches.

“More small businesses are depositing checks directly from their office,” he said. “The efficiencies are there.”

“But we’ve also opened branches in other areas. We just opened in Astoria, and earlier this year we opened a branch in Riverhead,” O’Connor added. “If you don’t have a branch in an area, you’re not really there. We just don’t need two of them to be there.”

Other financial institutions are using technology to change how branches function. For example, NEFCU, a credit union based in Westbury, has opened three branches without tellers in the building, including one in Levittown in September. It opened one in Deer Park earlier this year and one in Bay Shore last year.

Also, three new Teachers Federal Credit Union branches are slated to open in 2018 with video teller machines and no live tellers, according to the credit union.

Bridge said the branch closings will lead it to take a pretax charge of $6.6 million in the 2017 fourth quarter related to exiting lease obligations, employee severance and other related charges. Cost savings from the closings are expected to add at least $3.3 million in pretax income next year.

The branch closings come as Bridge reported a 6 percent increase in its third-quarter net income to $9.4 million. The bank’s assets have grown 12 percent in the last year to $4.3 billion.

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