Magazine article American Banker

Florida's BankAtlantic to Open Branch in Wal-Mart Superstore

Magazine article American Banker

Florida's BankAtlantic to Open Branch in Wal-Mart Superstore

Article excerpt

In a rare move for a community bank, Fort Lauderdale-based BankAtlantic is expanding by opening the first full-service branch in a new Wal-Mart supercenter store in Florida.

The deal, which was announced this week, is unusual because much larger banks have been the ones to link up with the giant Arkansas-based retailer.

"We perceive these types of retail operations to be the future of merchandise retailing," said Ernest Malone, BankAtlantic's marketing manager. "The whole complexion is changing, and we have to change with the buying behavior."

BankAtlantic has $1.36 billion in assets and 31 full-service offices in Broward, Palm Beach and Dade counties. The supercenter is slated to open in October in Cape Coral.

This was not BankAtlantic's first dealing with Wal-Mart, the country's largest retail chain, which is based in Bentonville, Ark. Last May, BankAtlantic said it would install and operate automated teller machines in 149 Wal-Mart stores and Sam's Club locations throughout Florida. To date, 80 of those machines have been installed, bank officials said. The agreement to open the fullservice branch in the supercenter was a separate agreement from the ATM project, BankAtlantic officials said.

The BankAtlantic deal is not Wal-Mart's first in the country, however. It follows on the heels of similar arrangements with banks in Oklahoma and Texas. Another Florida bank, First National Bank of Central Florida, recently signed an agreement with Wal-Mart to open a branch in a supercenter, according to a Wal-Mart source. …

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