Grocery Stores Will Be Staple of CIBC's U.S. Push

By Senior, Adriana | American Banker, July 22, 1999 | Go to article overview

Grocery Stores Will Be Staple of CIBC's U.S. Push


Senior, Adriana, American Banker


Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce is not counting on the Internet alone to propel its expansion into the United States.

Differentiating itself from its closest competitors, the Toronto institution plans to borrow an established brand and some physical locations from a U.S. grocery store chain to bolster its on-line presence here.

CIBC is to open the first of 40 planned supermarket kiosks in Winn-Dixie Stores this fall, according to its filing for a U.S. national bank charter, which was approved by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency last week. The automated kiosks are to be staffed with part-time customer service representatives whose role will be to train customers on using the telephone, Internet, and automated teller machines to get information.

CIBC National Bank, to be based in Maitland, Fla., plans to label the kiosks Marketplace Bank. Marketplace is a trade name used by Winn-Dixie on its house-brand groceries, pharmacies, dry cleaning facilities, and bakeries.

By aligning with a familiar and trusted local supermarket brand, CIBC reasons, it can forge closer ties to the community, including low- and moderate-income customers, said a bank spokesman. It may establish similar ties to other regional grocery chains throughout the country, according to its OCC filing.

The strategy is an extension of the President's Choice Financial program that CIBC runs in Canada with the supermarket company Loblaw's Inc.

CIBC had 135 kiosks in Loblaw's stores as of May, up from four at the time of the program's launching in February 1998, according to the OCC filing. President's Choice Financial, using Loblaw's private-label brand name, has exceeded projections by all measurable estimates, said a CIBC spokesman.

By making grocery-store pavilions a central feature of its U.S. strategy, CIBC is recognizing that Internet customers often prefer some form of human interaction.

The kiosks would fulfill customer demand for physical locations at an estimated one-fifth the cost of a traditional brick-and-mortar branch, CIBC said in its filing.

The $281 billion-asset bank is following in the footsteps of other Canadian banks entering the U.S. consumer banking market via the Internet, complemented by a limited physical presence.

Royal Bank of Canada's subsidiary, Security First Network Bank, has opened branches in its home city of Atlanta and in Clearwater, Fla.

Bank of Montreal's mbanx, originally conceived as an Internet-only bank, now is being integrated with regular branches in response to requests by users to be able to bank through all channels, according to a bank spokeswoman. …

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