Abbey to extend UK branch network

Abbey to extend UK branch network

UK high street bank Abbey is planning to open 300 new branches over the course of the next five years.

An Abbey spokesman told Reuters reporters that the bank will extend its UK branch network from 700 to 1000 units as it moves into the next stage of a turnaround programme initiated by parent company Banco Santander three years ago.

Planning for the 300 new branches would begin next year, with the first units set to open in 2009.

The spokesman said that although the bank offers telephone and Internet banking, many of customers "prefer dealing with our staff face to face in a branch".

Abbey said last year that it planned to open as many as 100 new branches in areas of the midlands and the north east where it had little or no presence.

News of Abbey's branch expansion follows similar moves by its high street rivals, including HBOS, which disclosed plans last year to create 1500 new jobs in 100 new branches. At the same time HSBC disclosed plans to spend £400 million on 50 branches in new locations and undertake refurbishment of a further 200 existing sites.

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