Daily News

United Financial Bancorp Unveils Q4 Restructuring Initiatives

GLASTONBURY, Conn. — William H.W. Crawford, IV, CEO of United Financial Bancorp Inc. and United Bank of Glastonbury, Conn., today announced that the company expects to record certain charges in its fiscal 2014 fourth-quarter earnings, aggregating to a total of approximately $5.5 million pre-tax. The company has initiated certain restructuring initiatives in order to achieve greater operational efficiencies. The charges relate to a reduction in an unspecified number of management and staff positions and the implementation of a branch-optimization strategy, which includes the closure of five non-strategic branches in United’s branch network, pending regulatory approval. The five branch locations are: 180 Main St. in Northampton; 491 Pleasant St. in Northampton; 6 Church St. in Northborough; 701 Church St. in Whitinsville; and 124 Main St. in Broad Brook, Conn. These branch closures are in addition to the four branches United said it would consolidate after it announced its merger in November 2013. Those four branches officially closed in October 2014. The company expects to realize approximately $3 million pre-tax of ongoing cost savings as a result of this restructuring. Nearly all of these benefits will be fully realized in fiscal 2015. “A continuing focus on cost efficiency has always been a key driver in making our company a success. We said we would continue to look for ways to strengthen United when we announced our merger last year and we are delivering on that promise,” said Crawford. “Therefore, it requires some difficult but prudent financial decision-making to make the company stronger and more efficient without compromising our commitment to exceptional customer service or our unwavering commitment to our communities. With expectations of continued pressure on spread income in 2015 due to the likely interest rate environment, we thoughtfully and strategically identified key operational efficiencies that will result in significant ongoing costs savings in 2015.” The bank considered many factors before making a final decision, including the location of the branches and whether they supported its branch network; performance of the branches and deposit levels; demographics; and the level of customer foot traffic at these locations as well as business activity in the area. “Deciding to close these branches is not a reflection of the hard work and dedication of the employees who work at these locations. Instead, based on many factors, we just couldn’t make these five branches successful,” said Crawford. “We know change is not easy for employees and our customers. However, we will always be focused on delivering great customer service, providing convenient access to full service banking through different channels and giving back to the communities we serve. Implementing this branch optimization plan does not deter us from those priorities.” The company also announced to today that Scott C. Bechtle, chief risk officer, will be leaving United Bank effective Dec. 30. The bank’s risk-oversight responsibilities will be divided into a credit risk function overseen by the current Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer Mark A. Kucia. The enterprise risk management and compliance will now be overseen by United’s newly-appointed chief risk officer, Elizabeth “Betsy” Kenney Wynnick, its current executive vice president and director of Internal Audit who is replacing Bechtle.