NatWest opens new-look banks

NatWest this week revealed the first of a new generation of high street branches designed to be more customer friendly, as part of the continuing rationalisation of its branch network.

NatWest this week revealed the first of a new generation of high

street branches designed to be more customer friendly, as part of the

continuing rationalisation of its branch network.



The bank, which is axing 350 of its 1750 branches in the run up to the

millennium, is hoping to provide a more welcoming atmosphere by removing

the barriers between staff and customers, and providing facilities such

as satellite TV, newspapers and coffee machines.



The initiative is part of a broader movement in the banking sector

toward improved customer service. It also reflects the trend for cutting

back on staff in outlets by introducing more automated banking for basic

services.



Barclays is currently testing a similar concept called Barclays Express,

while Abbey National, which recently introduced charges for some

customers who queue for over-the-counter transactions, is also believed

to be considering radical new outlets.



The prototype NatWest branch in the Bentalls Centre, in

Kingston-upon-Thames, relies on cash machines for day-to-day

transactions and uses specially trained staff for face-to-face advice

and consulting only.



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