11/26/2010 09:51 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Citigroup To Open 'Apple-Like' Stores In Europe To Target The Wealthy

Citigroup is planning to open a small network of flagship bank branches in key Western European cities next year to re-focus its retail offer on affluent "global citizens," the Financial Times said on Friday.

The bank, whose operations in the UK, Spain, Greece and Belgium are being wound down under terms of the U.S. government bail-out, would be seeking to slim down and target major cities in France, Britain and Germany, the FT said.

"Further down the road, we will open up in key cities in Western Europe," the FT quoted one person familiar with the plan as saying, "2011 is a potential turning point."

No one at Citi was available for comment on the report.

The strategy would fit into the global plan outlined by Chief Executive Vikram Pandit in the summer to redefine banking operations.

The bank would focus its network on about 100 cities around the world, including 10 to 15 in Western Europe, targeting wealthy customers who travel frequently by opening big, flagship outlets modeled on the Apple stores, the paper said. (AAPL.O)

In Poland, where Citigroup has 200 branches spread across the country, the bank would refocus on Warsaw and a couple of smaller cities.

"We're not going to compete on bricks and mortar - it wouldn't make sense," a person familiar with the plan told the FT.

(Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Andrew Hay)
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