The Work Café concept was initially developed by Santander in Chile and its success has seen it rolled out to Spain, Portugal, Brazil and Argentina.
Alongside banking facilities, the Work Café will offer free co-working spaces and meeting rooms for local businesses and entrepreneurs, as well fast and secure free-wifi. It aims to create a vibrant hub for nurturing new business ideas and fostering collaboration in a relaxed atmosphere.
The first Work Café is based in Park Row, Leeds. Alongside the co-working spaces and bookable meeting rooms, the new hub will host free Work Café Talks and events designed for the local business community. Thirteen employees will be on hand to offer support, with appointments available to meet on site with bankers and relationship managers.
Susan Allen, Santander’s head of retail and business banking, said Leeds had been chosen to launch the concept because it is “an amazing city and one of the biggest financial hubs outside London”.
She added: “It has a very thriving and vibrant community with strong links to start-ups.”
Ms Allen said that the strong links between small and medium-sized enterprises and the universities in Leeds had also influenced the bank’s decision to set up a base in the city.
The Leeds branch joins more than 50 other Work Café’s around the world.
Ms Allen added: “We’re absolutely thrilled to open the doors to our first Work Café in the UK in Leeds. More than a café and more than a bank, the Work Café is a whole new banking experience, acting as a vibrant hub for local businesses and the local community. Work Cafés have been a huge success with our customers in other countries around the world, so we’re really looking forward to seeing the response here in the UK.”