Virgin Money (a UK retail banking challenger owned by Richard Branson) has opened its latest branch in Haymarket in London complete with an airline theme. The branch is set across two levels with the entrance level decked out with a large TV, interactive touch screen display highlighting Virgin Money banking offers and virtual fish tank, complete with virtual Richard Branson diver.
However customers who make their way upstairs are welcomed to a bank branch that has been designed in the style of the interior of a plane with real airliner seats, overhead lockers and floor lighting to guide the way. A cockpit children’s playroom is equipped with traditional and interactive games. Furthermore, customers are given access to free refreshments and snacks, use of iPads, free Wi-Fi access, televisions and daily newspapers.
Commenting on the newest branch launch, Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief executive at Virgin Money said,
“Our Lounges offer a perfect example of how we are different to other UK banks and how committed we are to delivering a unique and brilliant service to our customers. The new Haymarket Lounge pushes the boundaries of banking even further. Where else can you go, catch up with friends and enjoy a cup of tea while sitting in an airline interior?”
While the branch certainly makes a bold statement and challenges the notion of the traditional bank branch, a large scale rollout of branches equipped to the same degree with new technology and features might strain the profitability of Virgin Money. As a result, Virgin Money will not be able to build a broad enough network of branches to compete with the major UK retail banks but nonetheless is well positioned to fill a niche role in the market.
Overview by Tristan Hugo-Webb Associate Director, Global Payments Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group
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