National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) plans to double its revenues from retail banking in the region over the next five years, according to the head of its consumer division.

“Our aspiration is to double our revenues in the entire retail market space in the next five years,” said Suvo Sarkar, GM of NBAD’s consumer and elite banking. “We are looking to grow our product range and branch network, both in the UAE and overseas.”

“Retail banking contributes about 20 per cent of our overall business today,” added Sarkar. “We need to focus on this more – banks that focused on retail operations stood the test of the global crisis better.”

The bank has opened six new branches in the UAE this year, taking its total branch network to 106. It is looking to add another four by the end of 2010. It has also added 71 new ATMs and plans to add a further 28 in the coming months to bring its total to 400.

The bank is also scaling up its presence overseas and has set targets for new branch openings by 2014. 

“We are looking to increase our branches from 28 to 50 in Egypt, from 8 to 14 in Oman, as well as adding 5 new branches in Oman to take our total to 6,” says Sarkar. “We are now studying other market opportunities in Syria and Lebanon, as well as further afield in Hong Kong, China and Malaysia.”

NBAD currently has more than 150 branches spread across the Mena region.

Sarkar said the bank had benefited from its conservative lending policy to date: “Our loss rates are less than half the average of some of our peers,” he said, “Before the crisis hit, many banks were offering loans of up to 60 times their customers’ monthly salaries. We didn’t get carried away and we also have a good mix of Emirati and expatriate customers.”

NBAD’s retail banking division grew at 15 to 20 per cent in 2009, recording revenues of AED1.5bn. Today, it has over half a million customers.

Suvo Sarkar was speaking at MEED’s Middle East Retail Banking 2010 conference being held from 27-28 September.