Empire Adds Illinois to Its Territory; New York Thrift Sets Up Moneplex Center in Chicago's Financial District

By Morris, John | American Banker, April 3, 1984 | Go to article overview

Empire Adds Illinois to Its Territory; New York Thrift Sets Up Moneplex Center in Chicago's Financial District


Morris, John, American Banker


CHICAGO -- New York's giant Empire of America savings and loan association pushed into Illinois with the opening of a Moneyplex financial services center on Monday.

The new center departs from the Buffalo-based thrift's previous strategy in that it stands alone and is the first to be located in a state in which the $7 billion-asset thrift does not have a branch network.

This signals head-to-head competition with the financial centers of Sears, Roebuck and Co. on Sears' home turf, Moneyplex, the name Empire has given to centers it is setting up around the country, "is positioned to be Sears' most formidable competition because financial services are all it does," said Empire President Paul A. Willax.

Plans call for the Chicago center, with prestigious frontage on the financial district's LaSalle Street, to become the nerve center for perhaps a dozen more financial centers at commuter railroad stations and in the Chicago suburbs.

Moneyplex Inc.'s next step, however, will be nearer itshome base. Plans call for the opening in nine days of a financial center in a giant Bells supermarket in Buffalo -- Empire's first such center in a retail environment -- said William N. Wade, president of Moneyplex, an Empire subsidiary. A Shift in Strategy

These different approaches illustrate a change in Empire's strategy since Moneyplex was rolled out six months ago. Then, its intention was to establish financial centers in 80 of its branches in New York, Florida, Texas, and Michigan by the end of 1984. Now it is planning just 19, of which 9 are already in place.

Explained Mr. Wade: "The concept originally called for financial centers within the branches, and we started by talking about banking with financial services attached. Now that's turned right around -- we're talking about financial services with banking attached."

Empire realized that its first strategy would limit it to those states in which it had branches. And with only half a dozen players so far in the general financial services market, there could be a grace period of two years before the rest of the world wakes up to what is going on. Empire could take that much time to experiment and position itself nationally.

"We are going to try as many concepts as we can," said Mr. …

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