B Works seeks to reinvent banking with communal spaces

Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banking Group (CYBG) has unveiled its latest vision of the future of banking branches, by opening B Works in Manchester.

The branch, on Market Street, has been developed by the bank’s ‘B’ digital banking service, working with design agency I-AM. It follows on from a previous new concept store – called Studio B – that was designed by Four By Two and opened in April 2017.

B Works is a three storey space which offers both retail banking services and SME lending facilities. Customers can use the branch to learn, work, bank, and even exercise, using a range of free in-house facilities.

CYBG’s objective is to transform the high street banking experience and re-establish a physical relationship with its customers. It briefed I-AM to create an energetic and inviting environment where customers could receive expert financial advice, and engage in courses on issues such as social media.

Workshops between client and agency before design work began discussed what high street retailers such as Urban Outfitters might create if they opened a bank.

The bright and colourful exterior features double height glazing and illuminated brand signage. The interior features a flexible co-working space with meeting rooms, hot desks, and an open event zone. A showcase area has been provided for the B Works Partner programme. The space has been inspired by the B Works notion of ‘Learn. Work. Bank,’ and a commitment to communal learning, working and banking. It includes a café with a multifunctional bar, and a retail exhibition space which is set to launch in partnership with a fashion brand.

“The role of the bank is changing, and the reality is that more customers are choosing to bank digitally,” says B group innovation and marketing director Helen Page. “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.”

I-AM describes the new interior as offering a contemporary yet familiar environment designed with the customer’s experience in mind, with features not usually associated with the world of banking.

“I think between us, we’ve created something very special for Manchester and in the long term laid down a market for the future of high street banking,” says I-AM group managing director Jon Blakeney.

“B Works is a hugely important step in reimagining not only what a bank can offer to a community, but also how it can look and feel,” says B head of retail marketing David Judic. “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, one which would foster creativity and co-working while being flexible, welcoming and practical and I think we’ve achieved that in spades.”