Santander brews up first UK ‘work cafe’ for small businesses

High street lender Santander is rolling out its global ‘work cafe’ chain to the UK with a site in Leeds offering small businesses and entrep Credit: Santander/PA

High street lender Santander is rolling out its global “work cafe” chain to the UK with a site in Leeds offering small businesses and entrepreneurs free co-working spaces and banking facilities.

The group is trialling its first UK work cafe in the heart of the commercial centre of Leeds, bringing to life a former bank branch that was closed at the end of June last year.

Launching on Thursday July 18, the cafe will also be open to customers of other banks and aims to create a hub for “nurturing new business ideas and fostering collaboration in a relaxed atmosphere”, the bank said.

While it marks a first of its kind for the group in the UK, the concept was initially developed by Santander in Chile in 2016.

It has since grown to a 50-strong chain of work cafes, spanning Spain, Portugal, Brazil and Argentina.

If the Leeds trial is a success, Santander said it may look to roll it out further across the UK.

The move to reuse a former bank as the cafe location comes as swathes of branches are being closed across the UK by lending giants due to the rise in popularity of online banking.

Santander announced earlier this year it is to axe 140 branches in the UK in the latest tranche of closures.

Susan Allen, head of retail and business banking at Santander UK, said: “More than a cafe and more than a bank, the Work Cafe is a whole new banking experience, acting as a vibrant hub for local businesses and the local community.

“Work cafes have been a huge success with our customers in other countries around the world, so we’re really looking forward to seeing the response here in the UK.”

The bank has joined forces with renowned artisan coffee specialists Taylor St Baristas for the cafe, offering Santander card holders a 30% discount on hot drinks and snacks.

Customers of the cafe – based in Park Row, Leeds – will be able to use co-working spaces, book meeting rooms and attend free talks and events aimed at the local business community.

But it will also provide banking services, with a 13-strong team offering support and appointments with personal banking staff, business relationship managers or a select relationship manager for wealth clients.