Australia's fastest growing bank - Bank of Queensland - reached a milestone in its 128-year history today with the opening of its 100th branch at Windsor by Premier Peter Beattie.
Windsor is the seventh branch opened in the Bank's strategy to improve banking services by increasing its network by 34 branches to 128 by opening new branches in suburban, regional and rural areas all over Queensland.
The program will directly lead to around 240 new jobs for the State.
Premier Peter Beattie said: "Bank of Queensland has gone from strength to strength and this latest expansion program emphasises its faith in the future growth of our economy."
He congratulated Bank of Queensland on opening its 100th branch at Windsor.
"The Bank's expansion program says a lot about its get-up-and-go attitude and its belief in the future of Queensland. It's smart business for the Smart State."
As one of the only banks opening branches, Bank of Queensland has for some time been swimming courageously against the tide of branch closures, enhancing customer service and serving communities abandoned by the "Big 4" bank drain.
Since 1996, the Big Four have closed 369 branches throughout Queensland -153 in Brisbane alone - seriously impacting on access to essential financial services throughout the suburbs and often leaving regional areas devastated as people took their shopping to bigger centres which still had banks.
In banks alone this strategy has cost Queenslanders around 2,000 jobs, a drop in the bucket of the 55,000 jobs shed by the Big Four banks across the nation in the past decade.
Today's milestone opening occurred just two weeks after the Bank announced its record after-tax profit of $28.7 million for the 2001/02 financial year, a 19% surge on the previous year.
Bank of Queensland Managing Director David Liddy said the Bank's program of branch openings was a solid indication of its confidence in the Queensland community and a wise strategy for growth.
"This is about building communities," he said. "It's about a Bank playing its role in areas like Windsor.
"Our increasing network and excellent service levels underline the critical differences between us and our competitors - the major banks - which continue to close branches and minimise personal contact with their customers.
"The six branches opened so far under our growth program are already enjoying great customer interest, proving that our strategy of putting customers first and partnering, not abandoning, local communities is the key to strong, sustainable growth.
"Windsor opened its doors a week ago and already the support has been phenomenal.
"The power of our strategy has been proven by our recent profit announcement and our target of double-digit earnings again this financial year. Communities are standing behind a Bank that is standing by them.
"Bank of Queensland is expanding at a rapid rate of knots, with an intermediate goal of a 128-branch network within 18 months.
"This opening today is symbolic of our push to increase both profitability and marketshare, which we hope to increase from 7% to double-digit figures in our home State."