Erste Group. A partnership you can bank on.

We have been working with Erste Group for over twenty years now. We have seen great changes within the banking sector and have several times modernised branch and office interiors to meet the requirements of their clients and employees. Take a look at how our partnership with Erste Group has stood the test of time.

50,000+
workstations
2,500+
NO. OF BRANCHES RECONSTRUCTED
20+
YEARS OF PARTNERSHIP

Our joint story started in 1996, when Česká spořitelna with its 10,000 employees decided to improve work efficiency in its offices. Up until then spořitelna had used traditional closed offices. Over the next few years, and in cooperation with us, they converted all their offices to a modern open-plan format.

A year later we started work on the interior for the Česká spořitelna HQ on Budějovická in Prague. On the basis of the trust built up during the project we started, together with the investment department, to work on project “Unification” of office facilities for spořitelna. The project comprised an extensive analysis of the client’s needs and subsequently a proposal for the optimisation and standardisation of office furnishings taking into account frequent organisation changes at the savings bank.

We started changing the furniture in the offices before also working on the front-office furnishings. 

Important milestones in cooperation from 1994 to 2005

From bullet-proof glass to
a personalised digital experience

This is a first step on a longer journey to simplify the process for designing new space, also for architects. After Erste Group took control of Česká spořitelna in 2000 there was a gradual transfer of know-how. Česká spořitelna quickly responded to the new trend of direct communication with clients and decided on the reconstruction of its branch network. The revolutionary concept behind this project, titled “Client”, is the removal of the original counters with their bullet-proof glass screens, and their replacing with modern workstations at which bank staff will be able to communicate “face-to-face” with clients. Erste Group was the first bank in the Czech Republic to take this step and select a new strategy aimed at attracting younger clients.

To make life easier for clients, bankers at the branches will now be able to offer all services of the Erste Group portfolio in one place. 

Waiting time cut from forty to just ten minutes

This approach can be seen, above all, in the logistics of serving clients. Whilst previously you were greeted at the entrance by a machine giving you a ticket number, here you are met by a receptionist who directs you to the customer zone you need. The result has been a reduction in waiting times from forty minutes to a maximum of ten anytime during the day.

This transformation had many consequences for the interior furnishing layout concept, which we had to resolve. The requirements were often contradictory. With security specialists, for example, we discussed what had to be put where to give cameras a clear view, and then with the marketing department we had to arrange everything to give the best view of marketing materials.

From the start we worked with architects from Erste Group and the firm Gradus Praha, which created designs for workstations. Then security and banking technology had to be incorporated and finally tested in practice on pilot projects.

For the new branches TECHO supplied interior furnishings and also performed interior works involved in the reconstruction. This has provided us with an increased scope of experience and know-how that we can apply to other projects.

Transaction boxes

One of the methods with which banks tried to make things easier for clients before the advent of Internet banking were the “transaction boxes”. Clients could drop in these boxes payment orders, standing order requests etc.

For us as a supplier, a range of technical details provided a challenge with respect to security (camera system) as well as details such as the use of materials to avoid static electricity, which caused problems with dropping in paper documents. 

Expansion of cooperation 2005-2015

Expansion abroad

The tender we won for a European-wide supplier for Erste Group branches in 2005 signalled our first large project outside the Czech Republic and also a significant victory against 20 competing companies.

The aim of the project was to apply the know-how gained in the Czech Republic transforming the work processes in offices and with clients to other countries of the group. Our task was to ensure that the branches had a unified appearance regardless of geographical location. It was necessary to work with the brief from Austrian architects to deliver the harmonised standards set out by headquarters. A great challenge was dealing with the different local conditions.

One of the many challenges in each country was planning for moving offices and technical staff to one Headquarter site. For Erste Group this was a demanding project, particularly from the perspective of capacity – with regard to the number of people, required equipment and proposed new office space. For these projects we supplied new office furnishings including bespoke items and new design solutions.

Bright colours are unleashed into the previously grey corporately offices. It shows that even banks are undergoing internal transformation which is not just apparent externally, but also in relation to employees who now have a pleasanter and livelier workplace environment.

New wave of interior transformations

In 2010 a new branch furniture concept was introduced, based on the Austrian model. It included a complete range of interior elements from cash desks, "system walls" and "brand walls" for attaching pockets with marketing materials, to shelves, ATMs and transaction slip boxes.

From the start we worked actively with the Austrian architects and the Erste Group marketing department, which had a very clear vision which it was necessary to incorporate, at many levels, into the new designs and adjust some to the technical solutions as appropriate.

Current requirements for work space were reflected in the design of office furniture and workplace environment, which Erste Group regularly amended to correspond to the high requirements for functionality and comfort.

Mobile bank

A specific requirement that arose in 2011 and 2012; during the renovation of branches a special mobile branch was used to replace the permanent branch during the renovation period. This ensured that, particularly in small towns, people still had access to banking services.

In is interesting that when constructing this mobile bank we worked with a company that produces large motor homes for Formula 1 teams, which offer every comfort during race weekends.

Achieving a higher level of mutual cooperation.

Over the past decade we have increasingly responded to the requirements for greater efficiency in the management of projects by taking on the role of general contractor. For Erste Group we have become a supplier of comprehensive fit-out and furnishing services.

The next big thing. Personalized digital experience.

Today we are slowly progressing from the role of just general supplier and we now offer Erste Group cooperation on projects right from the initial stages. We start with the creation of budgets, preparing of project documentation, organising planning permission, tendering for suppliers, organising and coordinating complex deliveries and managing quality. It was at this level of cooperation that in 2017 Erste Group entrusted us with the rebranding/renovation of their complete branch network.

There are no counters in the new branches, and clients enjoy a much more welcoming environment in which there is a lot of greenery and natural materials. Great attention was paid to light, which significantly influences the atmosphere and our mood. 

MORE ABOUT THE BRANCH NETWORK

It's all about flexibility

One of the lessons we have learned from our 20+ years’ relationship with our first key account is that if you dare to walk the extra mile for your client you will always get further in your relationship.

The length of our cooperation shows that we have a genuine partnership. As in life, it follows that the important thing is to be able to move things forward together. From us as partners this requires the ability to adapt, continually innovate and be able offer our clients something new.

The world is changing quickly and speed is of the essence in almost every branch today – the speed with which we respond to the changing requirements of customers and to competitors. We are glad that we are able to provide our key clients with a comprehensive and international service and support them in maintaining competitive advantages thanks, for example, to the speed and quality with which a complete branch network can be transformed.

Global sourcing

Today’s reality is that clients want the best quality for the lowest possible price. It is therefore important to decide how to meet this challenge. For example, during our cooperation with Erste Group we established a branch in China where we source quality products that we can offer the client for a better price.

Product development and logistics

Thanks to the long-term partnership and joint planning of individual orders we are better able to optimise the procurement of material and make effective use of production capacity. We are also able to save significant costs. Over time we have expanded our portfolio to include the production of marketing accessories as the client’s requirements have grown.

Global service

Today we are able to serve our clients in over one hundred countries. Erste Group can make use of our local service, with one exception, in all the countries in which it has branches – Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Ukraine, Croatia and Romania. At our Czech headquarters a dedicated team works on project Erste.

Recent large project

Stavební spořitelna Prague

We have modernised the training centre of our key client, Stavební spořitelna České spořitelny. This fit-out project, which included internal construction work, has significantly brightened the space and created a pleasant atmosphere. In doing this we fulfilled the client’s brief and we firmly believe that this change will also help inspire the work of those using this space.

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