The FT reports today that Citi is planning to resuscitate its retail presence in Europe by opening flagship stores in the UK, France and Germany. Just as with the Norwegian Blue in the Monty Python sketch, Citi's retail presence in Europe is well beyond resuscitation, a new birth is required.
Citi has never been clear what it wants to be in the retail market in Europe. It appears to have grown in Europe without any clear joined-up pan-European stategy. Now there is an opportunity for it to re-think what its proposition is to European banking customers and to leverage far more effectively its global, cross-border brand and its high net worth positioning for Europe. Hopefully a slimmer and re-energised Citi will be able to do this and to truly compete in the retail market against the likes of HSBC, Santander and Barclays, for the business of the global, mobile, modern Europeans. There is no doubt that there is a need for more competition for these customers, but it is going to take a lot more than opening 'Apple-style' branches to be a contender.