A bank which prides itself on its relationship with its customers has relocated its Stoke-on-Trent branch to a bigger premises – just a few yards around the corner.
Handelsbanken has moved into the former Moore Stephens building at Lakeside, Festival Park, from its previous base at Island Reach.
The move – which was planned before the Covid-19 pandemic – has seen 13 staff from the bank’s Stoke-on-Trent and Crewe branches brought together under one roof.
Branch manager Steve Cox – who joined the business in 2000 – said: “Our Stoke-on-Trent branch had been based at Island Reach for more than 10 years, and now we are really excited to be committing to at least another 10.
“We had outgrown our old office and we needed more space to be able to meet our customers. We spend a lot of time visiting customers at their businesses and their homes, but we wanted to give them the option to come and see us in branch. Now we have completed the refurbishment and have the space to grow.”
Steve added: “We are not a high street bank, but we provide a very local, bespoke service.
“We took the decision that we wanted to stay in this area of the city because it’s a great location, which is why we only moved around the corner.
“From an operational point of view, we decided to bring our Stoke-on-Trent and Crewe branches together because we were overlapping in some areas.”
Handelsbanken markets itself as a ‘local relationship bank’ which offers banking services for both personal and business customers.
It has more than 200 branches across the UK including in Stoke-on-Trent, Stafford, Burton, Derby and Shrewsbury.
Over the last 12 months the company – which was formed in Stockholm, Sweden in 1871 – has seen an increase in demand for its wealth management services.
Steve said: “As an essential business we have been open throughout the entire pandemic and we have made a concerted effort to remain fully open. We were here every day and at a time when our customers really needed us.
“Luckily, our customers have not had too many problems despite Covid-19 and they are preparing to come back from it really strongly, but the pandemic has given people time to assess their finances and look at their lifestyles.”
And over the next 12 months, the bank plans to make a number of improvements to its online banking services and continue to grow organically.
Steve added: “We want to invest and develop our online banking offering so customers get the same service online as they get in branch.
“We want to make sure our customers can access the bank the way they want to whether that is coming into the branch, speaking to someone on the phone or going online.
“Importantly, we believe that having a local presence will allow us to grow the business one customer at a time.”