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|Washington Mutual Announces Plans to Open up to 250 New Stores Nationwide in 2005; Update Another 200 Stores|
SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 27, 2005-- Washington Mutual's Patented Retail Banking Concept Recognized Nationally and Internationally
Washington Mutual, Inc. (NYSE:WM), one of America's leading retailers of financial services, announced that its banking subsidiaries plan to add 250 more retail banking stores (branches) to their nationwide network of approximately 1,940 in 2005. In addition, the company is updating another 200 existing stores during the year to give its retail network a more consistent look and feel nationwide.
"Washington Mutual is creating a unique national financial services franchise and is well-positioned for growth by serving the huge market of middle market consumers and small businesses," stated Mike Amato, executive vice president of retail banking at Washington Mutual. "We have fine-tuned store building in our particular industry and are well-poised to take advantage of significant growth opportunities."
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 new and remodeled stores in its longer standing markets, such as Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, while also expanding into some of America's largest cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, New York and earlier this year into Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg, Fla. Recently, the company also announced plans to open new stores in Connecticut during 2005 as an expansion of its existing New York City market. Altogether, more than half of Washington Mutual's stores feature the company's award-winning retail bank concept. The project to update certain branch facilities will be rolled out nationally this year in markets such as Washington, Oregon, California, Texas, New York, New Jersey and Florida. The program is designed to be a flexible, cost-effective way to bring a more consistent look and feel to Washington Mutual's retail store network and to complement the company's ongoing retail growth strategy.
Washington Mutual to focus on driving growth in existing markets
Amato added, "We have created a viable branch presence in many new markets over the past few years. We are now focusing on driving growth within our existing markets, where we believe we have a very large, untapped potential for new store growth and where we can leverage our leading brand presence and understanding of the local market."
Washington Mutual's patented branch concept takes a page from some of America's top retailers. Specifically, the stores with their circular layouts eliminate the high counters and button-down clerks so often associated with the banking industry and encourage more personal service. Instead, a Khaki-clad concierge greets customers and guides 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 at many retail banking stores 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 retail banking environment where people feel comfortable and where they want to go, rather than have to go," said Amato.
Washington Mutual recognized for retail banking strategy
Washington Mutual has been recognized for its innovation and retail banking strategy, both nationally and internationally. Fortune magazine announced that Washington Mutual was the No. 1 rated company nationally in the innovation category as part of its 2004 Most Admired Companies list, and the company was named the "Best Retail Bank - Americas" in the Lafferty International Retail Banking Award announced in November 2003. Earlier this year, the company received a U.S. patent for its retail banking concept, the first one issued to describe a full-service branch concept.
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, 2004, Washington Mutual and its subsidiaries had assets of $307.92 billion. Washington Mutual currently operates more than 2,400 retail banking, mortgage lending, commercial banking and financial services offices throughout the nation. Washington Mutual's press releases are available at www.wamunewsroom.com.
List of select markets and expected openings of Washington Mutual new retail banking stores, include the following. Please note this list contains highlights and will not include all expected 2005 openings, since some locations are still being finalized. Arizona 8 California 40 Colorado 10 Florida 45 Georgia 10 Illinois 20 New Jersey 10 New York market 40 Note: includes 10 in Connecticut Texas 20
CONTACT: Washington Mutual Mary Kelley, 206-377-6878 Mobile: 206-459-0394 email@example.com SOURCE: Washington Mutual