It looks like a US tech giant’s office, complete with its own coffee shop, chic “breakout pods”, the latest biometric technology and an events programme. But it’s actually a new Lloyds Bank branch in Manchester. Welcome to the new world of the bank super branch.
At a time when many high street banks are axing branches at an alarming rate, Lloyds this week opened the doors on its most expensive branch ever – refurbished at a cost of £3m.
Some customers wandering into the Market Street branch, which officially launches next Saturday, will have been bemused to find a cafe alongside cool office spaces and discreet banking counters. Those with a safe deposit box can access it using fingerprint technology.
And it’s not just Lloyds that is updating its branch network. Next month Nationwide will open a flagship branch in the same Manchester street. Again, customers can expect a super-modern design, coffee area and easy, secure access to online banking. Out has gone the utilitarian furniture once beloved of bank branch designers; in has come free wifi and funky armchairs. The building society said further flagship branches would open in Harlow, Wolverhampton, Poole, Watford and London’s Aldgate in the coming months.
Jakob Pfaudler, group director of community banking at Lloyds, says the Manchester outlet is the first of a small number of flagship branches to be opened under the Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland brands. “They will provide a hub in some of the UK’s major cities where customers will find everything they would expect from a bank and much more. We are aiming to set a new standard for high street banking, combining face-to-face expertise with new technology.”
He adds that customers can expect to see anchor branches – existing branches in large towns and cities – and community branches…