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Espresso banking at Wells Fargo

Ever felt that your local bank branch was a little dull? Are you spending time in the bank when you have other chores to do? Do banks make you feel hungry?

Don't worry - US regional bank Wells Fargo is here to help. Four branches in California have been converted to incorporate a Starbucks coffee outlet, a Briazz sandwich shop and a dry cleaner. The bank claims that "the centres reflect a new design sensibility that is unparalleled in the banking or retail industries", though it has certainly been tried in other sectors.

The idea seems to be working. The branches with the built in mini-mall have attracted more business, and the customer response has been positive. According to one bank spokesman, people actually enjoy coming to the bank. "They can get all their chores done in one place. We have kids coming to the bank with their parents to do their homework."

From the outside the four branches look fairly ordinary. But inside, vibrant colours, comfy chairs and a fireplace have replaced the usual sterile bank interior. "In fact, it looks more like the set from Friends [US sitcom about beautiful 20-somethings who drink coffee all day] than a bank," he adds.

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