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Bendigo to broaden banking choice in Sydney

17 December 2001 |Media centre

Bendigo Bank, Australia's only regionally-based bank and the sponsor of Community Banking, is broadening banking choice in the nation's biggest city, with its first retail branch opening today in Parramatta.

Bendigo's general manager of retail banking, Greg Gillett, announced Bendigo planned to open ten new branches in Sydney by mid-2002.

Five would be company-owned and five Community Bank branches owned and operated by local communities.

"Today Bendigo Bank opens its first branch in Sydney; by the middle of next year we aim to have a meaningful banking presence," Mr Gillett said.

"This will broaden the choice for people attracted to Bendigo's regional and community style of banking, which emphasises customer choice of face-to-face or electronic banking."

Mr Gillett said that following today's opening of the first company-owned branch and business centre in Parramatta, other sites would be identified in coming months.

Meanwhile, four Sydney suburban communities are nearing completion of their campaigns to open Community Bank branches of Bendigo Bank.

All have completed successful feasibility studies and are now raising share capital to establish locally-owned public companies to operate their branches.

Homebush is scheduled to be the first Community Bank launched in 2002. It has almost filled its minimum share subscription and steering committee chairwoman Marlene Doran urged would-be shareholders to lodge their applications in the next week so the branch could meet its launch date.

Other communities in the final stages of the process are Galston, Clovelly and Harbord, which will release its prospectus in the next few days.

Mr Gillett said the company-owned branch at Parramatta employed 16 staff, including a business banking team headed by a senior business banking manager, and would open from 9am to 5pm on weekdays.

He said Bendigo believed the company-owned and community-owned branches would complement one another.

"Bendigo's decision to invest in establishing a Sydney network of its own will give communities looking at Community Banking the confidence to proceed in the knowledge that we are committed to this market.

"Opening both styles of branches will also enable us to grow the network quicker, providing more options for customers."

Mr Gillett said Bendigo would bring the same approach to Sydney that it took wherever it operated.

"Our view is that we can only become successful by helping our customers and their communities to become more successful. If they do so, and we are their preferred banker, then our business automatically benefits."

Bendigo's head of business banking, Ashley Hood, said Parramatta branch would be the headquarters for a business banking team focusing on small-to-large family-owned businesses in the western suburbs.

"Those businesses will be very much the focus of our rollout of business banking across Sydney. Family business operators respond well to Bendigo's personalised style of banking, which emphasises that our best chance of success is to help our business customers improve their own prospects. If they are more successful, then we are more successful."

Bendigo Bank operates 142 company-owned and 55 Community Bank branches across Australia. Formed in 1858 as Bendigo Building Society, the bank is one of Australia's oldest financial institutions. It has assets in excess of $7 billion and employs more than 1600 staff.

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