YORKSHIRE BANK is investing more than £1m in a new flagship branch in Leeds as part of a multi-million pound plan to upgrade its high street locations.
The lender is also putting the finishing touches to a new digital platform for customers as it prepares to demerge from its Australian owner later this year.
Yorkshire and Clydesdale are set to float on the London Stock Exchange in the coming months, creating a major new challenger bank in the North of England and Scotland.
The new Yorkshire Bank branch will occupy a prominent position in Briggate in a 21,000 sq ft unit that was formerly home to discount chain Poundland and Borders bookshop.
It will house the bank’s retail, business and private banking teams.
The lender said the branch will offer extended opening hours, the best of technology and face-to-face customer support.
Richard Gregory, senior independent director at Yorkshire and Clydesdale’s parent company, said the new branch is “a very physical symbol of a new wave of investment in Yorkshire Bank which will position us for future growth”.
He told The Yorkshire Post: “We are absolutely focused on growing customer numbers and the customer base.”
Mr Gregory said Yorkshire Bank has big potential to grow in markets from the north of Birmingham on both sides of the Pennines.
It is targeting small and medium sized businesses, entrepreneurs and mature businesses planning the next stage of expansion.
The lender has already refurbished branches in Sheffield, Harrogate and Pudsey and plans to refit Albion Street in Leeds, Castleford, Wakefield, Hunslet and Barnsley before the year end.
Yorkshire and Clydesdale are closing 19 of their 294 branches this year as part of a cost-cutting programme.
Mr Gregory said the banks are adapting to fast-paced changes in consumer trends in banking with a multi-channel strategy covering digital, telephone and branch services.
He added: “We are looking at the future, to the changing ways people choose to bank and how we can deliver the best customer experience; the services they want in the way they want them.”
The demerger and subsequent listing provide the opportunity for a fresh start for Yorkshire and Clydesdale, which have been dogged by conduct issues.
The lenders have been forced to set aside £1.7bn to cover the cost of mis-selling toxic or useless products to small businesses and households.
Mr Gregory said the issues arose from poor systems, processes and control structures and these areas have seen investment over the last two years.
He has overseen a restructuring of the risk and control framework at the banks, which includes product governance and board responsibilities. “We have had to sort ourselves out before we can do what we are looking to do this year,” he said.