Unlocking the way for the Metro Bank

Steve Bowyer, chief executive of Opportunity Peterborough.Steve Bowyer, chief executive of Opportunity Peterborough.
Steve Bowyer, chief executive of Opportunity Peterborough.
When banking sector newcomer Metro threw open the doors to its new £3 million Peterborough branch there was a carnival feel to the occasion.

Stilt walkers, live music, balloons and other entertainments were put on over two days to mark the opening of the bank in Long Causeway.

However, the festivities hid the sheer amount of work that had gone on behind the scenes for many months in the run-up to the opening.

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Steve Bowyer, chief executive of Opportunity Peterborough, the company responsible for overseeing the city’s economic development, said that although it was well known Metro Bank planned to open 100 banks by 2020, it was not a given it would choose Peterborough.

He said: “We didn’t directly target Metro Bank.

“And it wasn’t like dealing with House of Fraser, which was very clearly choosing between Peterborough and one other city.

“But we still had to make sure the city looked right and that Metro Bank could be confident it would be able to run its business successfully here.

“For Metro Bank it is about people. We provided the statistics and evidence that Peterborough had a good growing population and a growing business population.

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“The regeneration work in the city centre was vital because they needed good footfall outside their front doors.

“So Cathedral Square, Long Causeway and all the investment that has gone in there with those early plans from OP and delivery by the city council was important - it’s the work that goes on behind the scenes but which was why they made the decision.

“There were meetings with the city council, ourselves, the chamber of commerce and Metro Bank leading executives talking about basic statistics that we had provided and unpicked them a little bit more.

“They wanted to see a strong entrepreneurial spirit. They could see it in the statistics, but wanted good anecdotal evidence.

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“The final decision comes down to confidence. They can see we have a joined up economic community and a good business network they can plug into.

He said: “Peterborough has a good financial sector and I think it is always good to have new thinking and new approaches. They have an exciting offer. I don’t know what the reaction of other banks will be, but it’s a big market place out there

He added: “For the future, we have lots of inquiries. The pipeline is really strong and we continue to push Peterborough in the UK and abroad.”