A town left without a bank will this week see a new branch on its high street when The Co-operative Bank opens its doors to the public.
The 9,000 residents of Horbury (West Yorkshire) were left without a branch when the last bank left last year.
Now, following a 1,000-name petition asking for The Co-operative to open a bank within its existing food store, residents’ wishes will be granted.
It is one of five in-store banks to be opened by The Co-operative this year as part of an eighteen-month pilot. If successful, several hundred in-store banks could be rolled out across the UK.
Neville Richardson, Chief Executive of The Co-operative Bank, said: “While other banks are being forced to close branches and communities are being left without banking facilities, we are making the positive step to open new ones.
“We’re committed to growing our high street presence to give customers a compelling alternative to the ‘Big 5’.
The in-store bank in Horbury, like all the Co-operative’s in-store banks, will offer a full range of retail and business banking services.
Richardson continues: “Our aim is to provide personal banking in the most convenient way to customers, and by bringing our banks and food stores under one roof, we can achieve this.
“The Co-operative is in the unique position of having an existing well-established footprint of nearly 3,000 supermarkets across the country, combined with a well-known, trusted bank brand. While other retailers have aspirations to move towards an in-store banking model, we are the only business which currently has the infrastructure to make it a reality.”
Residents in Horbury welcomed the move. Pensioner Ray Tindale, said: “Getting a bank in Horbury is really good for the town. Most banks are making savings by getting rid of banks in small communities, but the Co-op is filling this gap.”
Derek French, Director of the Campaign for Community Banking Services, added: “This initiative by Co-op Bank is to be strongly applauded. Horbury is too big to remain bankless but it doesn’t let the government off the hook – the scale of branch closures nationally needs the urgent attention of the Banking Commission”.
The Co-operative Group currently operates more than 2,800 food stores and 340 bank branches under The Co-operative Bank and Britannia brands.
About The Co-operative Financial Services
The Co-operative Financial Services (CFS) is part of The Co-operative Group, which is the world’s largest consumer co-operative with around five million members, over £14 billion turnover, and core business interests in financial services, food, travel, pharmacy and funeral care. The Co-operative Group has over 5,000 retail trading outlets.
Following the merger with Britannia Building Society on 1 August 2009, the new organisation is one of the largest and well diversified mutual businesses operating in both retail and corporate markets.
As part of The Co-operative Group, the new business is characterised by its unique ethical and member reward policies and very high levels of customer advocacy.
The Co-operative Financial Services has £70 billion in assets, 12,000 staff and over eight million customers. It has over 300 high street branches, 20 corporate banking centres and a major presence in Leek, London, Manchester, Plymouth, Skelmersdale and Stockport.
It is the only mutual organisation that enables its members to earn financial rewards for the products they hold, as well as giving them the opportunity to have a say in how the business is run.