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Washington Mutual Announces Plans to Open 250 New Stores Nationwide in 2004; WaMu Signature Brand of Retail Banking Recognized Nationally and Internationally

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 17, 2004--Washington Mutual (NYSE:WM), America's leading retailer of financial services, announced plans to add 250 more financial center stores (branches) to its nationwide network of approximately 1,800 in 2004.

"Our growth strategy is to trail blaze the country's top metropolitan markets with our national presence in home lending and then overlay our innovative retail banking platform," stated Mike Amato, executive vice president of retail banking at Washington Mutual. "This strategy has proven to be very successful in markets across the country."

Washington Mutual is widely recognized as the industry leader in the revival of retail bank branching nationally. In 2000, it pioneered a completely new approach to banking by placing the customer experience at the forefront and introducing an environment that is warm and inviting.

Since then, the company has opened more than 780 new stores in its long-standing markets, such as Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, while expanding into some of America's largest cities such as New York, Chicago and Atlanta. Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla. will be the company's newest retail banking market in 2004.

WaMu's banking stores take a page from some of America's top retailers. Specifically, the stores eliminate the high counters, button-down clerks and impersonal service so often associated with the banking industry. Instead, a Khaki-clad concierge greets customers and escorts them to the appropriate service area. Gone are the teller windows, which instead are replaced with teller "towers" that allow for easier transaction between the customers and service representatives. Internet access to wamu.com is also available for those who want to learn more about bank products independently. In many of the retail financial centers, a "WaMu Kids" section features a play area with an activity table, books, Gameboys and more.

"The end result is a retail model that represents a dramatic shift from traditional bank branches in look, feel and service," said Amato. "We've created a retail environment where people want to go, rather than have to go."

Washington Mutual recognized for retail banking strategy

In 2003, Washington Mutual was recognized as the "Best Retail Bank - Americas" in the Lafferty International Retail Banking Awards announced recently. The company was noted for clearly standing out among all U.S. financial institutions for trailblazing an innovative brand of retail banking.

The Seattle-based financial institution's branch concept was also recognized in January of this year by the Retail Industry Leaders Association as being one of the Top 40 best retail "stores" in the world, and was the only financial institution to make the ranking.

About Washington Mutual

With a history dating back to 1889, Washington Mutual is a retailer of financial services that provides a diversified line of products and services to consumers and commercial clients. At December 31, 2003, Washington Mutual and its subsidiaries had assets of $275.18 billion. Washington Mutual currently operates more than 2,400 consumer banking, mortgage lending, commercial banking, consumer finance and financial services offices throughout the nation. Washington Mutual's press releases are available at www.wamu.com.

List of select markets and expected openings of Washington Mutual financial centers, include the following. Please note this list contains highlights and will not include all expected 2004 openings, since some locations are still being finalized.


Florida                             50
(includes at least 30 in
 Tampa-St. Petersburg)

Illinois                            50
 (Chicago)

Texas                               30

New York/New Jersey                 35

California                          15

Colorado                             6

Georgia                              6


    CONTACT: Washington Mutual
             Mary Kelley, 206-377-6878
             Mobile: 206-459-0394
             mary.kelley@wamu.net

    SOURCE: Washington Mutual