Northwest Bancshares in Warren, Pa., plans to close 24 branches by the middle of this year.

The $9 billion-asset company said in a press release Monday that it will incur about $5 million in additional expenses during the first half of this year to cover the cost of closing the offices. Northwest estimated that the closures will produce $5 million to $6 million of savings on annual pretax operating expenses starting in 2017.

Northwest will not identify the locations of the branches to be closed until customers are notified, a spokesman told the Central Penn Business Journal. The plan was announced as part of the company's fourth-quarter earnings release.

Northwest also plans to convert two full-service offices to drive-through-only facilities.

Northwest "has invested heavily in alternative delivery channels such as online and mobile banking, depository ATMs, and automated telephone banking which enable customers to transact business outside of the branch and beyond normal business hours," the company said in the release.

Northwest's fourth-quarter noninterest expense rose 11% from a year earlier to $61.2 million. Higher employee compensation, premises and occupancy costs and office operations all contributed to the increase. Those categories rose because of Northwest's August acquisition of LNB Bancorp in Lorain, Ohio, the company said.

Northwest's efficiency ratio was 70.82% at Sept. 30; the company did not disclose its fourth-quarter efficiency ratio in its earnings release.

Northwest has 176 branches in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and Maryland. Its largest market, in terms of branch count, is the Erie, Pa., area, where it has 20 offices.

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