Our branches “before and after” – Cognac over the 20th century

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BNP Paribas has been operating in Cognac since 1895. In fact, it was back then that the Comptoir National d’Escompte de Paris (CNEP), a forerunner of the Group, opened up a branch there on Place François 1er in a 19th-century building. See pictures illustrating how this building, which the bank has been in for 122 years, has changed.

The CNEP years

After its rebirth in 1889, CNEP set up a huge banking network across France. Branches spread to the country’s industrial and commercial cities. CNEP focused on shopping streets, boulevards, crossroads and prestigious locations such as Place François 1er in Cognac.

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Seven years separate these two photos, but the aesthetic of the remarkable building facade has changed very little. It is still adorned with a pediment, a head of Mercury – the god of commerce – and the bank’s sign underneath a clock. Two pilasters frame the centre window on the second floor. All these elements are meant to convey the image of the company’s reputation and stability. The right-hand photo dates from 1957, a period during which CNEP undertook to expand its network.

From BNP to BNP Paribas

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In 1973, the Place François 1er branch still sports its style, the original pediment and clock still presiding over the building facade. The main decorative elements are recognisable. Yet the bank’s sign now bears the name BNP, acronym for Banque Nationale de Paris, created in 1966 by the merger of CNEP and the Banque Nationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie (BNCI). In the 2017 photo, you can see a cash (or ATM) machine on one of the bank’s walls, allowing customers to carry out cash transactions at all times. Ever since the merger of BNP and Paribas in 2000, the BNP Paribas Cognac branch has continued the tradition begun by CNEP 122 years ago in its Rue François 1er location.

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