Banks in grocery stores becoming de rigueurIt's officially...

BANKING & FINANCE

June 17, 1993|By David Conn | David Conn,Staff Writer Michael Dresser contributed to this column.

Banks in grocery stores becoming de rigueur

It's officially a trend!

Provident Bank of Maryland has agreed to place full-service bank branches in up to a half-dozen Baltimore-area Metro Food Market and Basics stores, the bank said this week. Taken with the launch in November of three First National Bank of Maryland branches in Weis supermarkets in Frederick, the trend finally is taking in this area. (There were about 1,100 bank branches in grocery stores nationwide last year.)

Provident President Peter Martin says the agreement with Harrisburg, Pa.-based Super Rite Corp., parent of Basics and Metro, also gives Provident the right of first refusal to put branches in any grocery stores Super Rite builds in the region.

"We think our branches and their stores are going to be a very good fit," he said.

The branches will keep hours similar to -- but not necessarily the same as -- those of Metro stores, which are open daily from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday hours have not been resolved.

The branches will be housed in prefabricated modules ranging in size from 400 to 650 square feet, each with three to four employees, including a bank officer. The bank will also place automated teller machines in stores where it has branches.

Modules will be supplied by International Banking Technologies of Atlanta, the matchmaker between Provident and Super Rite Corp.

The grocery store branches will provide virtually all services available at a conventional branch -- and yes, they'll even be able to keep your jewels on ice.

Cockeysville firm hired to pursue deadbeats

National Credit Management Corp. of Cockeysville just won a potentially lucrative government contract -- one that eventually could reduce your taxes.

NCMC, once the debt collection arm of Holiday Health Spas, has been awarded the federal government's first contract to help collect from some of more than 14 million delinquent accounts. The total owed: more than $45 billion.

The one-year contract -- with four one-year renewal options -- from the General Services Administration calls for NCMC to receive a fee for sending collection letters to accounts that are less than four months delinquent, said company President Tom Gillespie. "The potential for this thing could be in the millions of dollars a year," he said, especially in the later years if more federal agencies are persuaded to use NCMC.

The next step: NCMC must get individual agencies and departments to sign up for its services. (The Internal Revenue Service isn't included in the GSA contract -- it's expected to release a similar contract proposal in a month or two.)

Debt collection isn't NCMC's only business. In April the company launched a service that allows merchants and other companies to accept checks over the telephone.

But who knows -- if NCMC can help the government get serious about deadbeats, maybe that will lessen the tax burden on you (unless, of course, you're one of those deadbeats).

Sometimes less bank is more, publisher finds

Sure, it's just anecdotal, but Roger Miller thinks he has a cautionary tale about consolidation in the banking industry.

Mr. Miller is the owner of Image Publishing Inc., the publisher of "coffee table" photography books on Baltimore, Annapolis, Washington and Maryland. In an unusual news release, Mr. Miller outlines a 10-year banking history that started with initial financing in 1983 from the old Central Savings Bank.

"We had no idea how our books would be received, but Central Savings showed a lot of faith in us, and the books were an incredible success," he says.

Since then, Central has changed its name or ownership -- or both -- six times, Mr. Miller relates, ultimately becoming part of the NationsBank Corp. empire. Over the years it added more restrictions to Image's financing.

"We had the same line of credit, the same collateral; we just weren't allowed to use it," he says, adding, "Eventually, we ran out of books and couldn't reprint them."

Sales dried up, equipment purchases were curtailed, and staffers were laid off.

When NationsBank told Mr. Miller the relationship was over, he found a consultant who turned him to the Bank of Glen Burnie, an institution a fraction of the size of NationsBank but willing to restore Image Publishing's financing.

"Having the Bank of Glen Burnie on our side is like a rebirth for us," says Mr. Miller.

The company is updating its books and is printing a new version of "Baltimore -- A Portrait."

Alex. Brown's Griswold named NYSE director

From the executive suite:

* The New York Stock Exchange named four new directors this month, including Alex. Brown Inc. Chairman Benjamin H. Griswold IV. He will serve a two-year term.

* Signet Banking Corp. has named Richard D. Fairbank to head its credit card business, replacing David K. Hunt, who left last month to become president and CEO of AT&T Universal Card Services Corp.

* Legg Mason Inc. has appointed Drucilla A. Richards vice president for corporate finance, focusing on real estate investment banking, including REITs. For six years she was a partner in the Washington office of Trammell Crow Co.

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