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|Washington Mutual Continues to Open New Stores Nationwide; Washington Mutual's Patented Retail Banking Concept Recognized Nationally and Internationally|
SEATTLE, Feb 06, 2006 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Washington Mutual, Inc. (NYSE:WM), one of America's leading retailers of financial services, announced that it is targeting to open from 150 to 200 new retail banking stores (branches) this year, adding to its nationwide network of 2,140 stores the company had at the end of 2005.
"Washington Mutual is well-situated to continue attracting new households and to expand our store network," stated Kenneth Kido, president of retail banking at Washington Mutual. "We have created a viable branch presence in many new markets over the past few years, and are currently focused on driving growth within our existing markets."
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 Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg, Fla. Last year, the company opened new stores in Connecticut as an expansion of its existing New York City market.
The benefits of a large bank with the service culture found in smaller companies
Kido added, "We provide consumers and small businesses with the benefits of a large bank with the service culture often found in smaller companies. We complement this with an innovative retail model that more closely resembles the experience customers have when they shop for other retail products."
Washington Mutual's patented branch concept called Occasio (Latin for "favorable opportunity") takes a page from some of America's top retailers. Specifically, the Occasio(R) 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. In many of the retail banking stores, a WaMu Kids(R) section features a play area with an activity table, books, 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 Kido.
Washington Mutual recognized for its retail banking strategy
Washington Mutual has been recognized for its innovation and retail banking strategy, both nationally and internationally. The Retail Industry Leaders Association cited Washington Mutual's store design as one of the Top 40 retail concepts worldwide in January 2005, and the company was named the "Best Retail Bank -- Americas" in the Lafferty International Retail Banking Award announced in November 2003. Additionally, 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, 2005, Washington Mutual and its subsidiaries had assets of $343.12 billion. Washington Mutual currently operates more than 2,600 retail banking, mortgage lending, commercial banking and financial services offices throughout the nation. Washington Mutual's press releases are available at http://newsroom.wamu.com
List of select markets and expected openings of Washington Mutual's new retail banking stores include the following. Please note this list contains highlights and will not include all expected 2006 openings, since some locations are still being finalized. Arizona 10 California 30 Florida 25 Illinois 15 New Jersey 15 New York market 25 Texas 15
SOURCE: Washington Mutual