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Virgin Money unveils latest bank lounge

VIRGIN Money has confirmed its own current account product will be rolled out in Scotland before the end of the year as it unveiled the latest of its lounges.

IN CHARGE: The bank, headed by Jayne Anne-Gadhia, is backed by Richard Branson. Picture: Reuters
IN CHARGE: The bank, headed by Jayne Anne-Gadhia, is backed by Richard Branson. Picture: Reuters

The six-figure investment in premises on Glasgow's Queen Street will let customers of the challenger bank have free wi-fi, newspapers and magazines and meeting spaces as well as access to iPads, a fish tank, a dance floor and a cinema room.

There will also be complimentary tea and coffee with the official opening day pencilled in for Thursday this week.

The bank, headed by chief executive Jayne Anne-Gadhia and backed by Sir Richard Branson, said this is the first of its new style lounges which also incorporates a retail banking facility on the same site.

It is the second lounge in Scotland, following the one in central Edinburgh on St Andrew Square, and the fifth around the UK.

The branch at St Enoch Square will be closing with all staff transferring across and total employee numbers effectively doubling to 14.

Brian Brodie, Virgin Money's sales and marketing director, was in Glasgow yesterday to oversee the progress on the lounge.

He said: "We know our customers expect something different and this is a real key manifestation of that. It is also about doing something better

"It will be a good investment. It is very different to a traditional bank branch and is open longer hours and at weekends as well.

"We are not throwing products down their neck in the lounge. We know as people become more engaged and become advocates then over time they will buy more products from us."

Mr Brodie expects up to 200 people a day to use the lounge and said it will also be available for use by charities and community groups in the evenings.

Virgin Money has branches in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Giffnock, Dundee and Aberdeen out of its 75-strong network, much of which was acquired through its deal to buy Northern Rock in 2012.

In addition it employs around 150 people in the Scottish capital in areas including operations, risk, finance, legal and human resources.

Mr Brodie said the company's plans to launch its own branded current account, it currently has customers from Northern Rock using current accounts, are progressing well with the initial roll-out likely to be done in Scotland before going further south.

He said: "In the short-term near future we will get into the current account market.

"We have always said we will do a regional roll-out to keep it under control and Scotland is a really good platform."

Alongside that Mr Brodie, originally from Edinburgh but now living in Harrogate, Yorkshire, suggested Virgin Money is set to launch a number of new products into the market over the next 12 to 18 months.

He said: "We do want to be a full retail service bank and we have a few gaps in our portfolio. Customers ask us for those products so we want to be able to give them."

The bank is also investing heavily in mobile banking solutions which will be launched shortly.

Around 70 per cent of Virgin Money's business is done digitally at the moment.

Mr Brodie said: "Our first truly mobile enabled product will go live in August then we will start to bring other products on after that. Mobile growth in banking is a really important one for us to be at the forefront of and you will see a lot on that from us over the next six months."

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