Hundreds of banks could be opened in Co-op Food stores across the UK in the coming years if a new pilot scheme by the retailer is successful.
The grocer plans to open its own-branded banks in five stores nationwide, and will make a decision on whether it should roll out this format further after an 18-month trial.
Each in-store bank will offer a full range of retail and business banking services, providing customers with an opportunity to undertake various high street chores all under one roof.
Neville Richardson, CEO of The Co-operative Bank, said: “While other banks are being forced to close branches and communities are being left without banking facilities, we are making the positive step to open new ones.
“We’re committed to growing our high street presence to give customers a compelling alternative to the ‘big five’.”
One of the five Co-op stores set to provide financial services later this year is in Hanbury, West Yorkshire, a town left without a bank when the last remaining outlet closed down in 2010.
A petition of 1,000 residents in the community called on the Co-op to open a bank in the town, and the company has duly obliged.
“The Co-operative is in the unique position of having an existing well-established footprint of nearly 3,000 supermarkets across the country, combined with a well-known, trusted bank brand,” Richardson continued.
M&S Money already provides a full array of financial services such as insurance cover and individual savings accounts, so opening physical banks inside its stores would appear to be a natural step for the company.
With 2,800 food stores and 340 bank branches already in operation in the UK, The Co-operative Group is perhaps even better placed to follow this route – and Richardson certainly thinks this is the case.
He commented: “While other retailers have aspirations to move towards an in-store banking model, we are the only business which currently has the infrastructure to make it a reality.”