Grupo Santander is the world's ninth largest bank by market capitalisation and has 63million customers in Europe and America. In 2004, it took over UK high street bank Abbey, a company with 714 branches and 18million customers.
To reflect the new ownership and to align itself with the corporate identity of Grupo Santander, Abbey embarked on an ambitious refit programme for all of its branches. During 2005, all external signage is being replaced.
Over the next three years the interiors will be refitted, with 125 branches getting a complete refurbishment during 2005, which includes new wall and floor covering as well as units and furniture. 400 more will receive new ‘merchandising and messaging’ panels between August and December of 2005.
According to Dan Armitage, group marketing manager for branch marketing and branch development, the look and feel of the branches is key. “Many, if not most, customers visit our branches regularly – and it is here that we do most of our business. With our stated objective of being the best bank in the UK for all of our stakeholders, our branches are still our biggest and best billboards.”
He added: “To align ourselves visibly with Grupo Santander is key – so we needed to make sure that the corporate red was maintained in all our designs.”
Marketplace Merchandising is the design consultancy responsible for bringing the concept to life. Commercial director Beverley Thompson explains how Marketplace successfully steered the project from conception to implementation within extremely tight deadlines. “Our designers were looking for a matt finish on the units, of which many were lightboxes, therefore the correct choice of materials was imperative.”
The requirement for units with a lifespan of up to five years in high traffic areas meant impact strength was critical, as was UV resistance. In addition the panels needed to be a specific RAL colour reference – when lit – in order to adhere to the brand identity.
To help source the right material, Arla Plast of Sweden was approached (Fig.1). According to product manager Jonas Borgsten the first material they looked at was PMMA. But this was not considered strong enough. “We recently introduced a new range of panels – Griphen Frost, made from Eastman14471 copolyester resin, – which could be made to meet the colour specification exactly. To make sure it does, Arla Plast even specified the type of fluorescent tube that is to be used.”
“This is a large project and Abbey’s lead times were very short – but we did not cut any corners. We all worked together – a huge learning curve – to find the right solution for the customer – even incorporating some last minute colour changes, literally hours before we started extruding. The support we received from the team at Eastman was very important,” he added.
Griphen Frost is manufactured using Eastman14471 copolyester resin, a material which has a long history of use in indoor signs and store-fixtures, and is known for its superior thermoforming characteristics, chemical resistance and ease of fabrication.
Eastman14471 copolyester resin is particularly suitable for applications in the POS/POP market and in the thermo and vacuum forming industry. Sheets made from it are easy to fabricate allowing greater design freedom. They can be vacuum-formed at lower temperatures than other plastics without the need to pre-dry the sheet.
Sheets can be routed, welded, drilled, die-punched, bent hot or cold, or joined by screws, rivets, or bolts. It can also be cut on conventional table, band, or radial-arm saws. It accepts screen-printing, painting, and hot-stamping easily. Surface scratches or scuff marks can be removed using a heat gun, whilst even aggressive cleaning solutions will not turn sheets white, making it suitable for in-store environments.
According to Eastman, the copolyester resin is an excellent material to address the needs of brand owners, designers and fabricators alike, offering many advantages for designing an extensive range of creations, from elementary objects to the most complex designs.