The Co-operative Bank's chief executive Bruce McLachlan visited Hawke's Bay last week, looking for new Napier branch premises and talking up his bank's attractions.

"We had to move about three weeks ago in Napier because we had an engineering report done on our building and we closed the branch immediately," he said.

The building was only 11 per cent of code, he said.

"We literally closed it the same day. We were not happy to put our customers and staff at risk. We were shut for a week and have just opened the branch in temporary premises on the corner of Clive Square and Dickens St."


The bank has a strong Hawke's Bay connection, with both Peter Ellis (Farmlands CEO ) and Sam Robinson (director of AsureQuality, Centralines and chairman of AgResearch) on its board of directors.

Along with TSB Bank and Rabobank, the Co-operative Bank (formerly PSIS) achieved 100 per cent satisfaction ratings in the Consumer August banking survey.

The Co-operative Bank has 125,000 customers and 31 branches.

Mr McLachlan said with many customers of the National Bank unhappy about the merger with ANZ, they would do well to transfer to a bank they would personally own. "Every one of our customers gets an equal share - equal to all other customers. With that share comes a right to vote and it makes you eligible for rebates, should the directors choose to pay them.

"We haven't paid them up until now but our board has publicly said they are reviewing the option of rebates."

He said banks had a myriad of "nuanced fee structures", so it was difficult to compare directly, but his bank was "very competitive against any other player".

"I don't like to make the promise we are cheaper because that's not our proposition. Our proposition is we are a co-operative - you'll get fantastic service.

"Price is important, but customers love the service they get with us and that ultimately the profits stay here in New Zealand.


"If people are looking for a bank that is truly different, then they are welcome to join us."

He said he was looking at all property options in Napier.

"I don't know - I'm guessing - but when you look at National Bank branches throughout New Zealand side-by-side and they have rebranded ANZ, they are not going to have branches on both corners. So all round New Zealand here might be a few good property opportunities coming up."