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Egg scrambles Internet-only focus

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Online bank Egg has ditched its Internet-only strategy and is looking into establishing a High Street presence.

The bank said it was about expanding its reach, but it is the latest in a slew of online companies that have had to acknowledge the importance of face-to-face contact with customers.

Mike Harris, the bank's chief executive, told the Financial Times: "There are 12 million people in the UK who are happy to use a bank that has a presence on the Internet and on the phone, but what about the other 28 million?" What indeed.

The company is looking at developing its partnership with Boots. The chemist has not ruled out the possibility of a franchise deal. Egg is also investigating the possibility of opening branches in shopping centres. Its parent company, Prudential, which still owns 80 per cent of the baby bank, has 300 shopping centres in its portfolio.

In response to concerns about the bank's share price, which at 97 pence is the lowest since its IPO at 160 pence, Harris was bullish. He pointed out that a recent Mori poll had indicated a strong future demand for the bank's core products.

The bank is planning a number of other expansion directions, including a mortgage "supermarket". It already runs an insurance panel where companies bid for customer's contracts and sells a range of investment funds from other companies. ®

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