Magazine article American Banker

Charter One Adds In-Store Branches as Others Waver

Magazine article American Banker

Charter One Adds In-Store Branches as Others Waver

Article excerpt

While some large banks are reconsidering whether to offer retail banking services in supermarkets, Charter One Financial Inc. plans to boost its in-store network by nearly 70% by the middle of next year.

On Tuesday the Cleveland company said it would open 34 branches at Tops Friendly Markets in northern Ohio and western New York to increase its supermarket branch network to 84 locations.

Mark Grossi, an executive vice president and the chief retail officer at Charter One, said in an interview that it considers supermarkets to be a major artery of its retail business. In fact, with the ink barely dry on the deal with Tops Markets LLC, Charter One is already looking to increase its grocery store presence elsewhere, he said.

"The only thing that's left for us to do in the in-store world is to get a little bit bigger in it," Mr. Grossi said. "We still have plenty of room to grow."

Many banks have tried supermarket branching, but with varied degrees of success. National Commerce Financial Corp. of Memphis has embarked on a plan to open 30 locations in Atlanta-area Kroger stores. TCF Financial Corp., a Minneapolis company that focuses on Colorado and the Midwest, has plans to open 25 more in-store branches in the next year.

The strategy has been particularly popular in California and other western states, where a suburban "driving culture" makes the convenience of in-store locations appealing. Bank of America Corp. has 200 in-store branches Wells Fargo & Co. …

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