First Niagara Financial Group (FNFG) in Buffalo, N.Y., is laying off employees and shutting down branches as it seeks to retool its retail operations.

The $37 billion-asset company plans to eliminate 170 administrative employees across its branch network, it said Wednesday. First Niagara plans to centralize administrative functions and devote more of its branch jobs to ones that directly serve customers. It will invite the laid-off workers to apply for other positions in the company, it said.

First Niagara recently promoted 200 employees as part of a new staffing model under which branch employees provide a wider variety of customer services.

In addition, First Niagara plans to close 10 branches in New York and Pennsylvania in the first quarter, as part of a consolidation of branches it acquired from HSBC in 2012. First Niagara bought 195 branches in the deal but has resold more than 60 to rival banks and closed others.

The branch closures were reported Wednesday in Buffalo Business First, and confirmed by a First Niagara spokesman.

First Niagara was spurred to reevaluate its branch model because of the increasing popularity of mobile and online banking and declining branch traffic, it said. More than 40% of First Niagara’s approximately 1 million customers have registered for online banking, the company said.

Last month, First Niagara named Gary Crosby its permanent chief executive. Crosby had been serving as interim CEO since the company ousted John Koelmel in March.

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