Republic Bank makes cutbacks in bid to revive profits

PHILADELPHIA – Republic Bank is cutting jobs and reducing branch hours as part of a turnaround effort for its financially ailing parent firm.

The bank also will close a Philadelphia branch, with more changes possible after a review by new management, according to a statement from Republic First Bancorp.

The cost-cutting measures for Republic’s retail banking division are a sharp break from the trademark approach of former chairman and CEO Vernon Hill II of Moorestown.

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Hill's style, first developed at the former Commerce Bank N.A. of Cherry Hill, emphasized an expansive branch network with long hours and customer amenities like lollipops, coin-counting machines and water bowls for dogs.

The bank’s board ousted Hill last year after dissident shareholders said his management had hurt Republic First’s earnings and stock price.

Republic First in May reported a first-quarter loss of $9.7 million, more than its annual profit of $9.2 million for 2022. Its stock closed Monday at $1.15 per share.

Republic Bank sheds Vernon Hill II's imprint

“All strategies have to evolve,” said Thomas X. Geisel, who arrived in December as president and CEO for the bank and its parent firm.

Under Hill, Republic offered extended hours at its branches and drive-thru windows. Hours now will be limited from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at most offices, a spokesman said Monday.

The change reflects the growing use of online banking services at Republic, which previously focused on building a network of brick-and-mortar branches.

No details were provided on the number of “redundant or unnecessary position” facing elimination.

The bank will be “winding down non-core business lines,” said Geisel.

Republic last month announced an end to its mortgage-origination business and reductions to commercial lending in New York.

Republic also is closing a branch on the 1800 block of Market Street in Center City Philadelphia, merging its operations into an office at 1601 Market.

Management shake-up at Republic Bank

Republic said CRBE, a real estate services and investment firm, is to “evaluate the bank’s real estate” and help develop a plan for the properties.

The bank has 33 branches in South Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.

The parent firm on May 30 announced the election of Andrew B. Cohen, a Republic director since 2017, as its chairman.

Cohen is co-founder of a firm that oversees long-term investments for billionaire hedge-fund manager and New York Mets owner Steven A. Cohen and his family.

The two men are not related.

Cohen succeeded Harry Madonna, who founded the bank in 1988 and served as interim chairman after Hill’s departure.

But Cohen’s appointment was blasted by a stockholder group led by George E. Norcross III, a South Jersey businessman and Democratic power-broker.

It noted Republic First’s stock price “has dropped a staggering 86 percent since Cohen joined (the) board — Including 11 percent on the day his appointment as chair was announced.”

“It was critical for Republic First’s future that Harry Madonna’s failed tenure as chairman come to an end,” the shareholders' statement said.

But it contended Republic, under Cohen, “will still be led by the same group that is responsible for the company’s current financial situation.”

Jim Walsh is a senior reporter with the Courier-Post, Burlington County Times and The Daily Journal. Email him at

This article originally appeared on Cherry Hill Courier-Post: Republic Bank is cutting jobs and hours as part of recovery effort