Retail revamp for Abbey National

First Partnership has picked up the design brief in the modernisation of Abbey National’s high street presence, following a five-way pitch.

The brief initially involves the redesign of a number of Abbey National’s branches to include Costa Coffee-branded coffee shops, and planning new formats such as Internet kiosks, shopping centre units and mini-banks in Safeway stores.

The first signs of the revamped Abbey National/ Costa outlets will appear at the end of July in Barnet, and then in London’s Cannon Street the following month. While planning a redesign of the interiors for the coffee outlets, First Partnership director Kenny Laurenson declines to comment on whether the bank is planning a complete redesign of its 760 high street branches. He does say that the brief is ongoing and could extend to other areas.

“Our objective is to combine the benefits of state-of-the-art technologies with the human face of Abbey National,” says Laurenson. “Our pitch was very strategy-led, not just design, focusing on the fact that high street banking requires a radical rethink of customer service,” he adds.

The appointment comes at a time when the bank is working on a radical departure for traditional high street banking by offering local managers the chance to act as franchisees.

The move, expected to save the company £250m, will give successful franchise applicants responsibility for staffing, marketing and the format of their branches. Abbey National will retain all staff on its balance sheet and provide infrastructure. Trials will start in up to 36 branches in August, with a further trial planned for later in the year.

Earlier this month, Abbey National tied up a deal with Post Office Counters for customers of its Internet bank, Cahoot, to carry out basic banking services across the Post Office branch network.

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