December 06, 2006 09:55 ET

Fortis Credit4me receives MAPIC Award for its innovative credit shop concept in Germany

BRUSSEL, BELGIUM -- (MARKET WIRE) -- December 6, 2006 --

On 16 November 2006 Fortis Credit4me received a MAPIC Award at the MAPIC trade fair in Cannes (France), the world's largest for retail real estate. Fortis's German subsidiary picked up the award in the 'Services' category for its outstanding retail concept and its exceptional and dynamic growth.

Fortis Credit4me GmbH impressed the jury of experts with a sophisticated sales format and with a completely new business model, at the heart of which is a simple and transparent service offering. The credit shops - essentially brand shops specialised in lending - fill a niche by focussing on well-defined customer needs.

Interior designers Cronauer and Romani have split the shops into two areas to combine functionality and modern design as effectively as possible. The front area's open, lively shopping atmosphere invites customers to learn more about the services through multimedia screens, product displays and self-service terminals. They can shop around at their own pace and without being approached by staff. Borrowing money also calls for discretion, however: hence the area at the back, where qualified staff are on hand to help customers in private. The long opening hours - tailored to shoppers rather than banking customers - give people the feeling that taking out a loan is a simple and straightforward process, similar to buying any other product. It is this that sets the credit shops apart from banks, which are more formal and require appointments.

"Our innovative business concept centres attention on the needs of the public. Customers value our philosophy of proximity. We regard and present ourselves as a retailer - the difference being that we sell loan products instead of groceries," emphasises Marc Hentgen, Managing Director of Fortis Credit4me. Fortis has already established 18 credit shops in major German cities since the national launch of the new business model in June of this year. The company plans to set up a dense sales network, spanning a total of 130 branches in Germany by 2008.

The Fortis Credit4me concept was created following the acquisition of Von Essen Bank by Fortis in 2005. Besides offering consumer finance and credit cards, it also provides German retail customers with daily banking, borrowing, savings, mortgage, and brokerage products and services.

Fortis in Germany

Fortis has been present in Germany for over 85 years. Its German operations now encompass the business lines Merchant Banking and Commercial & Private Banking, Fortis Investments and Retail Banking, particularly Consumer Finance. Commercial Banking operates out of seven business centres in Cologne, Frankfurt, Dortmund, Trier, Stuttgart, Munich and Hamburg. It provides international companies with a range of cross-border solutions, including cash management, credits, trade finance, global export and project finance, leasing, factoring and acquisition finance. Merchant Banking has offices in Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and Cologne, where its operations include Acquisition & Leverage Finance, Corporate Banking, Corporate Finance and Capital Markets, Export and Project Finance, Global Market Sales, Institutional Banking, Prime Fund Solutions and Securities Financing. At each of these locations, it has sales and client service teams dedicated to corporate and institutional clients. Fortis Investments is based in Frankfurt and Düsseldorf, where it provides socially responsible investment (SRI) services. Its new investment centre in Frankfurt manages asset allocation portfolios and employs a portfolio manager specialising in German micro caps. Fortis Investments also has a stake in Versiko, a socially responsible financial services provider, headquartered near Düsseldorf. Fortis is actively growing its German Consumer Finance operations. It recently acquired Von Essen Bank and last July launched an innovative Credit Shop concept under the Credit4me brand. It has since opened 18 credit shops and aims to have a total of 130 shops fully operational by 2008. Besides offering consumer finance and credit cards, it also provides retail customers with daily banking, borrowing, savings, mortgage, and brokerage products and services.

About Fortis

Fortis is an international financial services provider engaged in banking and insurance. We offer our personal, business and institutional customers a comprehensive package of products and services through our own channels, in collaboration with intermediaries and through other distribution partners. With a market capitalisation of EUR 40.1 billion (30/11/2006), Fortis ranks among the 20 largest financial institutions in Europe. Our sound solvency position, our presence in 50 countries and our dedicated, professional workforce of 58,000 enable us to combine global strength with local flexibility and to provide our clients with optimum support. More information is available at

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