Retail Banking Projects: Delivering Excellence

Alexander Catmur
The way in which consumers interact with their banks is changing and, as a result, banks are re-evaluating the way in which they can best meet their customers’ needs.

Real estate collaboration in the banking sector can benefit from our cross-sector expertise. One option currently being explored by a leading high street bank is to establish a presence in supermarkets. This enables them to provide convenient access to customers at times to suit them.

Challenges and complexities

Having worked with a number of high street banks over the past 20 years, we are privileged to be partners in the changing face of banking delivery to date. We understand that retail banking projects are complex in their own right and have managed extensive retail refurbishment, fit out and re-branding projects and programmes. We know such projects and programmes require careful and considered planning, management and execution.

"Retail fit outs present a series of challenges; security is a vital consideration, as is the often complex stakeholder management required."

Lucy Namihas, Faithful+Gould's Project Manager 

Lucy Namihas, a project manager working on one of our banking frameworks, outlines these particular challenges, "Retail fit outs present a series of challenges; security is a vital consideration, as is the often complex stakeholder management required. It’s not just the client representative that you have to engage with, you are often dealing with branch staff as well as other areas of the bank. Additionally, where you are fitting out an operational branch, you will often have to phase delivery and work out of hours; enabling the branch to remain open to customers with minimum levels of disruption. Maintaining consistency across branches is also important; if a customer walks into any branch of a bank there is an expectation to experience not only similar levels of customer service but also consistent and highly effective environments. This is critical for maintaining the brand identity."

"Deliveries happen outside of opening hours, shelves have to be stacked, cash collected and delivered, all of which cannot be disrupted by ongoing works."

James Law, Faithful+Gould's Managing Quantity Surveyor

Add to this the further requirements of managing fit outs within the context of an operational supermarket and you have to draw on additional expertise to understand the precise requirements of such operations. James Law, managing quantity surveyor, is currently delivering new build, refurbishment and fit-out projects for a major supermarket retailer and identifies some of the issues that will have to be considered, "It’s not simply a matter of ensuring the customer is not disturbed, which limits the time and manner in which you can work, supermarkets typically operate 18 – 24 hours a day, depending on when they are actually open. Deliveries happen outside of opening hours, shelves have to be stacked, cash collected and delivered, all of which cannot be disrupted by ongoing works. You always have to be mindful that food is stored on the property and all precautions must be taken to ensure no contamination of store produce."

Value Opportunities

There are, however, considerable opportunities for efficiencies and savings within a programme of this nature, to ensure that the client achieves best value. Amongst the most significant of these are the use of modular designs together with the synergies and economies of scale associated with volume roll outs. Retail fit outs within high street properties are often complicated by the site specific constraints of the building or unit being occupied. Supermarkets on the other hand tend to be of a more uniform, cubic layout allowing scalable, modular designs to be developed and utilised across the programme. Our approach to integrated service delivery, which roll out programmes of this nature naturally lend themselves to, also enables the professional services model to be consolidated.

"Adopting a modular design approach makes the whole job that much simpler. The client has certainty that the quality and appearance of the units will be consistent and the contractors know what they are dealing with on each and every project..."

Chris Rugg, Faithful+Gould's Associate Director

Having previously managed similar programmes in the retail and financial services sectors, Chris Rugg, associate director, is familiar with the value and benefits that can be realised through a consistent approach, "Adopting a modular design approach makes the whole job that much simpler. The client has certainty that the quality and appearance of the units will be consistent and the contractors know what they are dealing with on each and every project, making the fit-out process more streamlined and, therefore, faster. Projects are easier to price and cost estimates have far greater certainty enabling more innovative commercial strategies and procurement initiatives to be explored. We also promote a reduced consultancy cost base through our integrated service delivery and the removal of duplication from independent service provisions, to create operational efficiencies."

In summary, it is clear that whilst locating bank services within supermarkets might bring with it a series of new challenges, which will require banking clients to draw down on a diverse set of skills and specialist knowledge, such exciting changes also bring with them opportunities to improve customer experience with highly effective and efficient delivery solutions.

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