UK: Barclays to pilot bank branches within Asda stores

Barclays is to trial branches within Asda stores under a partnership announced today.

Barclays is to trial branches within Asda stores under a partnership announced today. - Credit: PA

Barclays is to open a string of branches in Asda stores from next year, offering seven-days-a-week banking services.

Eight branches will open by early 2014 under a pilot scheme which Barclays sayd will offer customers the flexibility of longer opening hours, mirroring those of the Asda stores the branches are located in, as well as providing more convenient parking access.

It said that branches will be located in clearly defined and branded areas within the Asda stores, so that customers can do their banking in private.

Metro Bank already boasts seven-day banking among its services and Marks & Spencer, which has been rolling out bank branches in its stores since last year, also has opening hours which mirror those of the shops in which they are sited. M&S Bank offers a pager service meaning customers can carry on with their shopping instead of queuing.

Charlotte Nelson, spokeswoman for financial information website Moneyfacts, said: “Gone are the days of inflexible banking, customers now have more options than ever before, including longer opening hours, online and telephone banking and even mobile apps.

“With providers’ customers living increasingly hectic lives, it’s more important than ever for customers to be able to access banking facilities when they require.

“Despite an online presence it is still very important for customers to go into a bank as many processes still require this stage (such as) paying in a cheque.”

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Banks have been showing signs of raising competition to attract and retain customers following new rules introduced in September which make it easier for current account customers to ditch their existing provider and switch to a new one.

The new rules have cut the length of time it takes to switch a customer’s bank or building society from up to 30 working days to seven and all incoming and outgoing payments are now automatically transferred to the new account.

Steve Cooper, head of Barclays retail and business bank, said: “We’ve spoken to our customers who use our everyday and business banking services in our branches and they’ve told us their time is precious so would benefit from being able to multi-task, park easily and visit branches with longer opening hours.”

Karen Hubbard, executive director for property and multichannel at Asda, said that the trial is taking place in areas where the “communities need it most”.

She said: “Access to banking services is an under-rated but important asset to any community but in many areas, these services just aren’t available to families.”