U.S. Bank is initiating an aggressive expansion that includes opening 40 branches inside Safeway stores across the Valley and hiring about 300 people to operate them.
The bank already had eight in-store branches in the Valley and opened another seven Monday, including several in the East Valley. It will open an additional branch in Phoenix on Nov. 24, and then 32 more next spring and summer.
Hiring already has started and will remain brisk through the holidays, said Amy Hurd, regional manager for in-store banking at U.S. Bank in Arizona.
“We are well on our way in terms of the recruiting,” she said. “I would say that the largest bulk of those employees are going to be hired this spring because we’ve got these 32 locations coming starting in February. So really this Christmas we’re going to be heavily recruiting for those positions.”
Because of continued population growth, there is increasing demand in the Valley for community banks and banks in general, said Kurt Bauer, president/CEO of the Arizona Bankers Association.
“Some bankers would say we’re overbanked right now because you have a variety of different entities out there that provide financial services in addition to traditional banks,” he said. “Yet, there are market niches out there. There’s no doubt it’s a very competitive market, but with the right business plan for banking, as you can see by the growth, it’s obviously lucrative.”
U.S. Bank has the third-largest in-store bank presence in the country, but has few in-store branches in the Valley, Hurd said.
“We had the opportunity to partner with Safeway and basically we looked at where they were located within our footprint, and we saw that Phoenix is really growing for us,” she said. “When we saw what Safeway would allow us to do to increase this market, it just made perfect sense.”
The bank will fill all branch positions, including mortgage loan originators, financial consultants, district managers, branch managers, personal bankers and all other staff.
The in-store branches are not kiosks but are full-service bank branches offering all banking services and will be open seven days a week, Hurd said.
“We will be the only bank in Phoenix that has seven-day-a-week banking at these locations, and that is really going to set us apart,” she said.
In 2001, Safeway expanded its own Safeway Select brand to in-store branch banking. Safeway Select Bank was the result of an alliance between Safeway and Amicus FSB, a subsidiary of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, or CIBC, a former provider of electronic banking in the United States.
Last November, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce announced it was discontinuing its U.S. electronic banking operations, which included financial services under the Marketplace Bank and Safeway Select brands. It wasn’t Safeway’s decision to close the Safeway Select in-store branches.
Safeway has partnerships with several financial institutions across the country, including Bank of America, SunTrust Banks, Wells Fargo and now U.S. Bank.
In all, U.S. Bank plans to open 163 in-store branches across the country, Hurd said.