Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Banking on Jacksonville; BB&T Corp. Plans to Become a Bigger Player in the Area by Quadrupling the Number of Branches It Operates

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Banking on Jacksonville; BB&T Corp. Plans to Become a Bigger Player in the Area by Quadrupling the Number of Branches It Operates

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRISTOPHER CALNAN

Jacksonville could prove to be a good place for North Carolina-based banking company BB&T Corp. to grow its market share.

Jacksonville's growing population makes it easier for banks such as BB&T to quickly expand compared with slow-growth markets. That's partly because the bank can pull in clients new to the region instead of relying on siphoning customers from the city's established banks. In Jacksonville, where the three major players have already captured more than 67 percent of the market, attracting new business is sometimes crucial to the growth of smaller banks, industry experts said.

BB&T entered the Jacksonville market less than three years ago. Based on deposits, the bank is No. 17 in Duval County, where it operates two branches. The bank also has branches in Nassua, Clay and St. Johns counties.

But BB&T plans to become a bigger player in Northeast Florida by more than quadrupling the number of branches it operates in the region during the next five years.

"BB&T, with an aggressive program, for them to be successful, they've got to . . . get a share of the new growth, and that's easier to do than taking business away from existing banks," said industry analyst Ben Bishop, chairman of Jacksonville's Allen C. Ewing & Co.

Mac Holley, president and chief executive of the four-month-old Florida Capital Bank of Northeast Florida, agreed with Bishop.

"A start-up bank has the highest probability of success in a growth market just by the fact that the pie is getting bigger," he said.

BB&T Regional President Jim Daly said the bank will raise its profile in Northeast Florida by publicizing a series of branch openings around the area, including downtown Jacksonville.

During the advertising campaign, the company will stress the autonomy of the branches and how such independence makes banking quicker and easier for customers.

"Once we start building and opening, you have the opportunity to have grand openings with advertising that gives the impression that we're growing and that each financial center is empowered to help clients without having to check with managers elsewhere," Daly said. …

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