Emporiki Bank is proceeding with a radical restructuring of its entire branch network in Greece as well as the group’s operating mode. The aim of the changes, which is to be part of the company’s transformation program, is to turn all of its 370 branches into customer service points. Gradually every administrative, accounting or other bureaucratic process that is presently executed within a branch and is not related to customer service is to be processed centrally. The other major change to be promoted is the specialization of operations conducted at branches concerning specific products. According to the existing plans, for the best and most efficient service to clients, work will be broken down into four main categories: consumer-mortgage loans, professionals, wealthy clients, and exclusively trading work. A first 23 newly streamlined branches are to start operating immediately in Athens and Thessaloniki. They will function as part of a pilot scheme until end-May and, by end-2009 at the latest, all the group’s branches are expected to have conformed to the new operational model. The new management of the bank is also making significant changes to its administrative structure. Today the bank has seven regional offices that oversee the group’s branches. Emporiki officials suggest that with the existing structure, some 55 branches correspond to each region (with some actually having 80 branches), which makes the actual monitoring of work very difficult. Under the new structure, there will be four zones, each accounting for five regions, and each region accounting for 20 branches. Emporiki sources argue that with the new structure, the checks and monitoring options will be drastically changed, as all regional procedures, approvals etc will have become centralized.