* Investment between 2013 and 2016
* RBS focusing on NatWest brand in London, other key markets
* Plans to re-build RBS brand and grow market share in
By Matt Scuffham
LONDON, March 18 State-backed Royal Bank of
Scotland is to invest 700 million pounds ($1.1 billion)
between 2013 and 2016 in improving its branches, it said on
Monday, part of a continuing shift in focus towards its domestic
The bank, which owns NatWest and Ulster Bank, said the money
would be spent on refurbishments across its network of 2,066
branches and initiatives to improve services to its 15.4 million
customers within the UK.
RBS, 82 percent-owned by the government, said it would
improve complaints handling, allow customers to open accounts
more quickly, simplify the processing of mortgages and provide
new self-service machines in its branches.
The bank is concentrating on its routine retail operations
having cut back its huge investment banking business since it
was rescued with a 45.5 billion-pound ($69 billion) state
bailout following the 2008 financial crisis.
The government wants it to focus on lending to British
households and small businesses.
The new initiatives are part of a strategy set by Ross
McEwan, who was appointed head of RBS's UK retail business in
August last year, joining from Commonwealth Bank of Australia,
where he was in charge of retail banking services for 5 years.
In a presentation to investors, McEwan said he planned to
make RBS the best retail bank in Britain.
"There's a big space there for it. I've not met anyone who
believes there's great retail banking in the UK," he said.
McEwan said the bank will invest in rejuvenating its NatWest
brand, which accounts for 80 percent of its business, and in
re-building its RBS brand and growing market share in Scotland.
McEwan faces a challenge in restoring the image of the bank
after a computer systems failure caused disruption to millions
of its customers last year while the bank faces a 3.5 billion
pound compensation bill for mis-selling.