The B-works concept store in Manchester debuted on 14 January.
B, the digital sub-brand of Clydesdale Yorkshire Banking Group (CYBG) aims to transform the traditional branch experience.
Notably, B-Works seeks to and re-establish the physical relationship between a bank and its customers.
Located in Market Street in the heart of Manchester, B-Works is a three-storey retail banking and SME lending space.
CYBG worked with UK-based international branding and interior design agency I-AM to craft the B-works concept store.
B-works concept store – perfect example of phygital
The outlet represents the perfect example of what it termed by many a ‘phygital’ experience. In other words, a store featuring the latest technology that lets the branch bridge the physical and digital worlds.
The overall aim is to craft a seamless and integrated phygital experience.
The Manchester store offers space for consumers and SMEs to learn, work, bank and exercise. In addition the branch features a wide range of free in-house facilities.
Examples include flexible co-working spaces featuring meeting rooms, hot desks, long term desks, training programmes and an open event zone. Moreover, the store includes a showcase area for the B Works Partner programme.
Café with a multifunctional bar
There are a number of hospitality areas, such as a café with a multifunctional bar. Banking staff can help customers with their financial inquiries, all within a friendly and informal setting.
The environment also motivates customers to explore new opportunities across multiple platforms. Along with event spaces that can be used for social learning and entertainment, it includes a retail exhibition space that will launch in partnership with a global fashion brand.
The end result is a new and fresh banking environment, showcasing the ways in which B bank can assist with local business growth.
B-works concept store – the brief
CYBG challenged I-AM to design an innovative destination with an energetic and inviting environment. The brief included a need for customers to receive expert financial advice and training programmes including social media courses.
The project began with a workshop to understand B’s vision. CYBG positions B as a brand that balances the needs of its clienteles’ businesses and lifestyles.
I-AM considered how a bank might look if it was designed by a high street brand such as Urban Outfitters.
B-works concept store: Learn, Work, Bank
The new type of banking environment with a financial lifestyle space is inspired by the notion of Learn. Work. Bank.
Helen Page, B’s Group Innovation and Marketing Director, says: “The role of the bank is changing. The reality is that more customers are choosing to bank digitally. We need to continually reimagine what we offer to customers across our channels to ensure we remain relevant. B-Works revolutionises that in-store experience”
The future of high street banking
Jon Blakeney, I-AM Group Managing Director, adds: “It’s been an absolute pleasure to work alongside the team from CYBG. I think between us, we’ve created something very special for Manchester. In the long-term, we have laid down a marker for the future of high street banking.”
David Judic, head of retail marketing at B, concludes: “B Works is a hugely important step. It re-imagines not only what a bank can offer to a community but also how it can look and feel.
“The design of B Works was paramount. We needed to ensure it would be a space which would work for small businesses and consumers alike. It fosters creativity and co-working while being flexible, welcoming and practical. I think we’ve achieved that in spades.”
The B brand was launched by CYBG in 2017.
Specifically, CYBG’s aim is that B does not look like a bank, feel like a bank or sound like a bank.
However, long term the future of the B brand is in doubt. Last June, CYBG acquired Virgin Money in a £1.7bn deal. However, CYBG says that in due course it will drop its Clydesdale, Yorkshire and B brands. As a result, the newly merged group will operate a single brand under the Virgin Money moniker.
CYBG kicks off 2018 with 240 outlets: 90 Yorkshire branded branches and 67 Clydesdale branded outlets. In addition, CYBG has 81 Virgin Money branded units and two B outlets located in Kensington and Birmingham.