Huntington Bancshares (HBAN) is pairing with a Michigan retailer to substantially expand its presence in the state over the next decade.

The $56 billion-asset company in Columbus, Ohio, is expected to announce today that it has signed an agreement with the retail chain Meijer to put branches in its grocery stores and supercenters across Michigan. Huntington is expected to open its first in-store branch later this month in Bath and it plans to build more than 20 branches in Meijer stores this year.

Ultimately, the company said it hopes the partnership will lead to 200 branches in Michigan, a 65% increase over its existing network there.

Meijer's stores are a homegrown version of the largest discount retailers across the country. Based in Grand Rapids, Mich., it has nearly 200 stores in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.

"Huntington and Meijer share the same, long-held commitment to customer service, convenience and our local communities," said Steve Steinour, chairman, president and CEO of Huntington, in a press release provided to American Banker Tuesday. "We look forward to giving consumers and small business owners more convenience through seven-day-a-week, in-store banking at Meijer store locations throughout the state of Michigan."

The partnership would extend Huntington's reach into several cities where it currently has no branches, including Lansing, Ann Arbor and Flint.

In-store branches can be somewhat controversial. Some branching experts say they are not as profitable as stand-alone branches and can be tougher to manage. However, many banks remain attracted to in-store branches because they are smaller and less expensive to operate.

Earlier this year, Huntington announced it would shutter 29 free-standing branches across its six-state network and will partner with Giant Eagle grocery stores to open as many as 40 branches in its stores, which operates in western Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland.

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