Branch banking remains at the heart of Halifax’s business plan, its chief executive has said, as it prepares to open what is though to be the biggest bank in the UK.
Halifax is to open a new a new 13,500 sq ft branch next month on the corner of Oxford St and Tottenham Court Road and said it hoped to open similar ‘mega branches’ in the north.
Speaking exclusively to The Yorkshire Post, the bank’s chief executive Russell Galley said: “There is all this talk about the death of the bank branch but actually we feel quite positive about our branch network.
“Branches for Halifax continue to the cornerstone of our strategy. We believe they give a service people want to support, give assurance and act as a method of educating people as well as being able to serve complex needs.
“We are investing in our branch network and the London example is a great example of that. Historically we have been a northern-based organisation and our footprint in London really was not optimised.
“I have been looking for some time for the right location to make a real statement about how we believe branches and really bang the drum of the Halifax brand in the capital. The location we have been able to secure gets 500,000 per day walking past it. And more importantly than that it is the one location in the uk that has an awful lot of customers from elsewhere who will be able to experience the branch and get reassurance around the brand.”
The new branch, understood to be an investment of several million, is split over two floors and will employ more than 50 people.
When asked if he wanted to create similar massive branches in its heartland, Mr Galley said: “I would love to do it in the north as well.
“It is a case of finding the right premises where we can have the right impact and consolidate your existing sub-optimal footprint.
“I would not count against us doing something like this in the north if we can find the right premises in one of our key cities in the north.”
Mr Galley added: “In a world that is becoming ever more digital and ever more technologically focused we actually sense that that requires a bigger element of human reassurance and support.
“So I think that the human touch is more important not less important in a world of technology.
“We are trying to get a really modern, friendly and down-to-earth feel that has all the technology in but doesn’t feel too austere so people would not want to use it.
“We are not just trying to force people to use digital because it is cheap for us we’re saying use digital for things that work for you, but our branches are also here for you for whatever you need. I think it is a very clear message to customers.”