Great Florida Bank shelves three planned branches, looks to add two in 2010
By Zachary S. Fagenson
Great Florida Bank didn't open the three branches it planned in 2009. Instead, it's to add two branches in Miami-Dade County to its existing 28-branch network in the coming year.
"We've filled out the papers with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the state," said Rodolfo Lleonart, senior vice president and director of retail banking. "We're looking at Homestead and Midtown.
"We scrapped Kendall to look for another location," he added.
The Coral Gables-based bank opened seven locations in 2008 and had hoped to open another seven across South Florida in 2009. But that didn't happen, and rather than three Miami-Dade branches, bank leadership now is hoping to open one in Palm Beach County, four in Broward and two in Miami-Dade.
"Right now we're strategically looking at locations of our solution centers and seeing which ones work and which don't," Mr. Lleonart said.
And while the bank did reduce its planned footprint here, it doesn't plan on concentrating itself in the other South Florida counties.
"We might be opening some residential lending offices," he added, and we "definitely want a location in Kendall."
Meanwhile, he said, the Homestead and Midtown branches should be open during the first quarter of 2010 and will be build-outs, as originally planned.
The choice to build out branches, which the bank calls "solution centers," in retail malls rather than free-standing locations is intended to save time and money, he said.
And while the bank continues to work on cross-selling customers, selling multiple products like mortgages and credit cards to one client, much of its focus in the coming year will be on helping its customers find safety.
"We've seen a lot of customers looking for more conservative products and investments," Mr. Lleonart said. They're "getting out of stock market, holding onto cash [and] we're seeing an upswing in savings accounts, money markets [and] certificates of deposits."
As of Sept. 30, Great Florida Bank had $1.72 billion in assets, held $1.3 billion in deposits and posted a third-quarter net loss of about $31 million.