The first branch will open in February in Birchwood, Cheshire, with a further three opening in Pudsey in Leeds, Watford, and Broadstairs in Kent. This will be extended to eight stores in the first half of the year, with nearby branches closing.
The branches will open during usual banking hours and be staffed by Barclays. Outside these hours, customers will be able to carry out banking services such as paying in cash and cheques, paying bills and withdrawing and transferring money using an automated service.
Steve Cooper, head of Barclays retail and business banks, suggests this is the first in a series of steps aimed at offering its customers more choice and flexibility.
“Our ambition is that by 2017, we will have an innovative and sustainable future proof suite of branches that exist alongside a choice of ways our customers can contact us, so they will feel they can do things quicker and more effectively,” he says.
The move will be seen as part of attempts by Barclays to rebuild its brand in the wake of the Libor scandal, in which Barclays was fined £290m for its role in rigging the rate banks use to lend to each other in the wholesale market. It has made several moves to improve its service and reputation, including hiring its first director of customer experience and adopting a company wide “brand centre” technology platform in an effort to ensure brand consistency.
For Asda, this is an opportunity to add a string to its bow by offering its customers banking services. Rivals Tesco and Sainsbury’s both have their own retail banks
Karen Hubbard, executive director for property and multichannel at Asda, says: “This is the next step in the evolution of how we continue to make our stores relevant to our customers’ everyday needs, giving them access to banking services to use at their convenience – when they want and how they want it.”