Magazine article American Banker

Fleet to Open Offices in Staples

Magazine article American Banker

Fleet to Open Offices in Staples

Article excerpt

Vying for more small-business banking customers, FleetBoston Financial Corp. said Wednesday that it would open 10 offices in Staples Inc. office supply stores in the Northeast.

The 150-square-foot Fleet offices, each staffed with two specially trained sales representatives, will not dispense cash or take deposits. Instead, they will be a lure for small-business owners to open specially designed business checking accounts, get Fleet debit cards with rewards toward purchases at Staples, and make small business loan applications.

Three of the outposts will be in Massachusetts, five in New Jersey, and two in Pennsylvania, Fleet said. They will be open six or seven days a week, depending on the location.

Fleet is trying to get out of its riskier, money-losing businesses. It is selling Robertson Stephens, its San Francisco investment banking unit, and curtailing further investment in Latin America. In April its chief executive officer vowed to focus on serving retail and commercial customers in its Northeast base.

A spokesman for Fleet said it already has more than 100 nontraditional branches, mainly in supermarkets. However, it is closing operations in Stop & Shop supermarkets in Massachusetts because the two companies could not agree on a lease deal, the spokesman said.

Consultants and analysts say the Staples office strategy could work.

"We think this holds greater opportunities (than supermarket outposts) because of the segment that shops in these stores," said Les Dinkin, the managing principal at NBW Consulting Services in Westport, Conn. …

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