Magazine article American Banker

Supermarket Branches Ring Up Another Big Year

Magazine article American Banker

Supermarket Branches Ring Up Another Big Year

Article excerpt

Bankers love their supermarkets.

The number of full-service supermarket branches jumped 40% last year to 4,398 at yearend, according to a study by International Banking Technologies, an Atlanta-based consulting firm that has long promoted them.

In addition banks opened about 400 supermarket minibranches, with one or two employees instead of five or six, the study found. That brought the grand total, including full-service, to over 4,800.

The supermarket branch "is a concept whose time has come," said John W. Garnett, president of the consulting firm. "There's tremendous potential for new business. The bank does not have to spend one nickle to advertise to bring the people in."

Opening full-service bank branches in grocery stores is not a recent phenomenon but has taken off in the last couple of years.

Such branches, cheaper to open and operate, increase customer access to services while providing a steady stream of potential new customers - everyone who walks in for a loaf of bread or a carton of milk.

The combination is proving nearly irresistible.

Some of the most aggressive supermarket branchers include Wells Fargo & Co. of San Francisco, which is opening about 700 supermarket banking locations, and Bank of America, which continues to add to its in-store network of 750 supermarket branches.

Barnett Banks Inc. is also jumping on the supermarket branching bandwagon. The Jacksonville, Fla.-based bank opened 12 in-store branches last year, using its hometown as its test market. The bank plans to add 40 such branches this year and another 40 in 1998 before it starts rolling out 80-plus per year in 1999, according to Jerri Franz, a spokeswoman.

And Charlotte, N.C.-based NationsBank Corp., which has about 150 in-store branches, has plans to add more than 200 by the end of 1999. The company is adding 80 this year alone. …

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