The first branch of Abbey National with a Costa Coffee cafe inside it opens for business today. Customers visiting Abbey National's branch in Barnet High Street, North London, will find a completely refurbished branch, with a 40 seat cafe serving Italian coffees and food to all paying customers who enter the premises.
Abbey National announced a deal with the Costa Coffee chain in December 1999 to install cafes in its branches. Barnet is the first branch to be converted, and will be followed by others in Bath, Croydon, Chelsea and Leeds. The bank hopes to have as many as 50 Costa branches by the end of 2002.
Having undergone a complete refurbishment, the new-style branch will also feature a Technology Assist Area where Abbey National's Internet and digital TV banking services can be demonstrated to and used by customers.
"The Technology Assist Area is the clearest demonstration of our commitment to 'clicks and bricks' - showing customers online banking in an 'offline' branch," says Andrew Pople, managing director of Abbey National retail. "The whole look and feel of the branch is going to be refreshingly different from any other high street bank: the aim is to make bank branches attractive places to visit and browse."
The Costa Coffee deal is the latest in a stream of initiatives from high street banks looking to generate more income from their bricks and mortar assets. Says Pople: "By generating income from our branches, we are helping to guarantee their future, and making a clear statement to customers, staff and the marketplace: Abbey National is investing in its branch network for the future."