Models on Vespa scooters, Pavarotti lookalikes and free coffee were part of the entertainment planned by Abbey National and Costa Coffee to celebrate the opening of their latest refurbished bank branch-cum-coffeeshop on the Kings Road, Chelsea.
The UK's Abbey National announced a deal with the Costa Coffe chain in December 1999 to install cafés in its branches. Chelsea is the second branch to be converted, and will be followed shortly by others in Bath, Croydon and Leeds. The bank plans to have as many as 50 Costa branches by the end of 2002.
The new branch features all the usual banking services and, in addition, a Technology Assist Area where Abbey National's Internet and digital tv banking services can be demonstrated 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," Andrew Pople, managing director of Abbey National retail says: "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 deal also makes economic sense, he adds, as it provides an income stream from branches. "By generating income from our branches, we are helping to guarantee their future, and making a clear statement that Abbey National is investing in its branch network for the future."