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|Washington Mutual Retires the Three-Piece Suit; Casual Retail Bank Opens|
Khaki-Clad Tellers, Kids Play Areas and Action Teller Dolls Set a New Standard In Chicago
CHICAGO, June 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Washington Mutual (NYSE: WM), the nation's leading retailer of financial services, has opened its retail banking stores throughout Chicagoland, introducing consumers to a whole new way of banking -- a friendly, personalized experience that encourages interaction between customers and tellers in a contemporary, open environment.
"Washington Mutual's stores are a total departure from the typical branches people are familiar with," said Tony Manisco, senior vice president and group manager of Washington Mutual's retail banking operations in Illinois. "They're a great example of our retail philosophy -- providing great customer service in a pleasant, relaxed setting."
When consumers enter a store, a friendly concierge, dressed in khaki pants and a casual shirt, greets them and directs them to the appropriate service area.
Instead of standing behind a thick, glass window, while a teller conducts transactions, consumers can stand next to a Washington Mutual (WaMu) teller and watch as a checking or savings account is opened for them at a teller tower, a stand-alone kiosk with a computer. The towers eliminate the need to count money, which is dispensed from a central cash station.
In many stores, parents can talk to a representative about a host of banking products and services, while their children play with games in the children's play area, which is stocked with books, toys and videogames. As customers take care of their banking needs a variety of contemporary jazz and pop music plays throughout the store.
The company began developing its retail concept store in the mid-late 1990s, based on nearly two years of extensive customer research and testing. In the past three years, WaMu has successfully opened or remodeled more than 450 financial stores using its signature retail banking model. 250 stores, some of which are included in the 450, will open across the country this year.
The 28 stores that are now open in Chicago are the first group out of at least 70 to be opened by the end of 2003.
To further acquaint Chicagoans with WaMu, the organization will participate in a variety of summer events and festivals throughout Chicago and the suburbs. As the sponsor of the Interleague Baseball Game between the Chicago Cubs and White Sox on June 29, WaMu will have players from both teams make appearances in a number of stores throughout the summer.
To reinforce its commitment to educational initiatives and teachers, WaMu is giving Chicago Public School teachers tickets discounted by 75 percent to select White Sox home games, including the final game of the Crosstown Classic series on June 29. This marks the first time an organization has subsidized White Sox tickets for teachers.
About Washington Mutual
With a history dating back to 1889, Washington Mutual is a retailer of consumer financial services that provides a diversified line of products and services to consumers and small- to mid-sized businesses. At March 31, 2003, Washington Mutual and its subsidiaries had assets of $276.97 billion. Washington Mutual currently operates more than 2,500 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 .
SOURCE Washington Mutual -0- 06/26/2003 /CONTACT: Tara Williams of Washington Mutual, +1-646-521-3320, firstname.lastname@example.org / /Web site: http://www.wamu.com / (WM) CO: Washington Mutual ST: Illinois IN: FIN REA SU: AJ-JR -- CGTH018A -- 8750 06/26/2003 13:41 EDT http://www.prnewswire.com