Citi planning new European retail operation

CITIGROUP is to revive its retail banking operations in Europe through targeted new openings in select major European cities from 2011.

The move marks a return to growth in the bank’s retail presence after a period of winding down its branch networks in countries including the UK, as part of the terms of its bailout by the US government.

Citi now aims to open flagship branch offices in a few western European cities in key markets such as the UK, France and Germany, according to the Financial Times.

The new branches will be styled on computer brand Apple’s hugely successful stores in major cities, and will target affluent and frequently travelling customers who require services across borders from a global bank.

Citi’s strategy envisages eventually opening a network of the branches in 100 cities, ten to 15 of which will be in western Europe.

The approach supports Citi chief executive Vikram Pandit’s strategy to redefine the bank’s retail banking services. The bank is also focusing on growth in emerging markets such as Eastern Europe and will again concentrate new openings in major cities.

Citigroup declined to comment.