People’s United Bank, which acquired Suffolk County National Bank in a deal that closed last month, plans to close 13 branches on Long Island — eight of them former Suffolk County National Bank branches, including the Ostrander Avenue branch.
The vast majority of those being closed are in western Suffolk and Nassau, said People’s New York market president Howard Bluver, who was Suffolk County National Bank president and CEO before the Riverhead-based bank merged with the larger People’s United Bank April 1.
“People’s United doesn’t really have a presence on the East End,” Bluver said in an interview yesterday afternoon.
The Bridgeport-based People’s United, which has hundreds of in-store branches within Stop and Shop supermarkets throughout its Northeast market, opened a branch inside the Riverhead Stop and Shop in September 2014.
The bank notified federal regulators of six planned branch closings on April 7, one week after taking over SCNB operations. The East Hampton Village, Rocky Point, Hauppauge and two branches in Port Jefferson will close, in addition to the Ostrander Avenue, Riverhead branch. In March, SCNB filed a notice of closing for its Southampton office on North Sea Road.
The branches being closed will cease operation in 30 to 90 days, depending on the the location, Bluver said. The Ostrander Avenue branch will close toward the end of June, he said. Customers who bank there will be moved to the Second Street branch, which will remain open.
“There’s not a single person in any of the branches who are losing their jobs. Every person is staying on, being moved to other branches where the accounts are being moved to,” Bluver said.
Suffolk County National Bank in November announced layoffs of 76 employees working at its administrative offices in Riverhead. There will be more back-office layoffs to come, Bluver said, though he did not give a number.
“Employees in systems, the finance group, loan operations — I call them non-customer-facing employees — will face layoffs,” Bluver said.
SCNB employees whose jobs were — or will be — eliminated as a result of the merger are in many cases being moved into other jobs at People’s United, Bluver said. Others, he said, are being helped by the bank to find jobs. “Very few won’t have jobs either in People’s United or elsewhere,” he said.
“When we were negotiating the merger,” Bluver said, ”we told People’s, ‘Understand this is a local bank. Customer relations with individuals is at the heart of it all.’ The branch folks, same with all the lending folks, it’s all about relationships.”
SCNB clients will be dealing with the same branch employees, the same lender, in most cases the same branches, he said.
“For the vast majority of clients the only thing that’s going to change is the name on the door,” Bluver said.
“If anything, their bank will now have more products and services to offer,” he said. “People’s is a bigger bank but I would still a community bank.”
People’s United has grown by acquiring many community banks, according to Bluver. They have entered new markets by acquiring smaller community banks and they’ve allowed the people to stay in place and keep doing what they’re doing.
Growth in the New York area is one of People’s highest priorities, according to People’s United president and CEO Jack Barnes, speaking in a June 2016 conference call when People’s announced its agreement with SCNB. People’s acquired the Bank of Smithtown in 2010 and Citizen’s Bank in 2012. The acquisition of SCNB enhances density and customer convenience on Long Island and gives People’s greater access on the East End, “where we don’t have a presence and where Suffolk has operated for 125 years,” Barnes said.
People’s acquired Suffolk in a 100-percent stock transaction valued at approximately $402 million.
Before the merger, People’s United Bank, a regional bank founded in 1842 had a network of nearly 400 retail locations in Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
Suffolk County National Bank, founded in 1890, had 28 branches on Long Island and total assets of $2.3 billion.
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