Most people enter a bank branch to complete a transaction, not to order a coffee. However, at Lloyds’ new ‘super branch’, you can do both. In a time where branches are closing faster than ever, is this the concept to save the physical channel? Or is it too little too late? Patrick Brusnahan writes
The branch is looking for a way to reinvent itself. One method is to slim it down, make it easier and quicker to get in and out. Poland’s mBank and Bank of America are two large banks trying to decrease the size of their branches.
Lloyds Bank has also stated its desire to shrink branches in an attempt to keep more of them open. However, Lloyds may not feel that one size fits all.
Based in Manchester, the new flagship branch comes with its own coffee shop, ‘breakout pods’, biometric technology and a series of events. This has resulted in Lloyds’ most expensive branch ever at a cost of £3m ($3.9m).
So why bring something like this to the UK market?
A spokesperson for Lloyds told RBI: “The way that customers choose to bank with us is changing. We have seen an accelerated uptake of digital services, we now have over 8.6 million mobile users and over 13 million active online banking users, which means fewer people are using our branches as frequently.
“However, to ensure we continue to give our customers the choice they want, we are investing in our branch network and transforming it.
“We know that branches remain important for the big moments in life – like opening an account, buying a house, or dealing with a bereavement, people like to speak to other people face-to-face. So branches are a vital part of our strategy, and we’re investing in our network to make sure it’s right for the future. As part of this, we’re trialling some different types of branches, one of which is the ‘flagship’ branch format.”
Lloyds: In the centre of it all
Why choose Manchester to launch this model? While it is an industrious, busy city, most branch closures are focused not in cities but smaller, more rural locations. Often ‘the last branch in town’ is the one to be closed.
The spokesperson said: “Manchester was chosen for our first flagship because it has a vibrant economy, a strong retail centre and a thriving business community. While the flagship concept is being considered for a small number of other locations across the UK, the Manchester branch has been designed specifically around the needs of the local community.
“The focus on supporting start-ups in Manchester was born from the knowledge that the city has the greatest number of start-ups outside of the UK, but also the greatest number of failures in the first 12 months.”
- Free Wi-Fi and phone charging for all;
- A Digital Zone, where customers can find out more about online services;
- A Business Hub to give local businesses support and professional space in which they can work and network with each other;
- A local, independent coffee bar at the heart of the branch, and
- Safety deposit facilities utilising the latest biometric fingerprint, allowing customers to store their valuable possessions in a safe and secure location.