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WaMu Boosting Branch Count

The company says it will open 150 to 200 this year.
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Washington Mutual (WM) - Get Waste Management, Inc. Report said it would open 150 to 200 branches in 2006, including 30 in California and 25 each in New York and Florida.

The Seattle-based retail and mortgage banker said the new openings will add to the 2,140 branches it had in place at year-end.

"Washington Mutual is well-situated to continue attracting new households and to expand our store network," said Kenneth Kido, president of retail banking at Washington Mutual. "We have created a viable branch presence in many new markets over the past few years, and are currently focused on driving growth within our existing markets."

Washington Mutual added that its "patented branch concept called Occasio (Latin for 'favorable opportunity') takes a page from some of America's top retailers."

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"Specifically, the Occasio stores with their circular layouts eliminate the high counters and button-down clerks so often associated with the banking industry and encourage more personal service," the company said. "Instead, a khaki-clad concierge greets customers and guides them to the appropriate service area. Gone are the teller windows, which instead are replaced with teller 'towers' that allow for easier transaction between the customers and service representatives. In many of the retail banking stores, a WaMu Kids section features a play area with an activity table, books, and more."