Investors Bancorp (ISBC) is opening two new branches, and relocating seven others, in New Jersey and New York as part of an ongoing effort by the Short Hills, N.J., company to emphasize commercial lending.

Investors, which is majority-owned by a mutual holding company, is gradually casting aside its roots as a thrift that emphasized mortgage lending, says Domenick Cama, the company's chief operating officer. Thrifts historically collected deposits by offering high rates on certificates of deposit, a business model that does not require physical branches to be located in prime locations. That's not the case with commercial banks, he says.

"A thrift can put a branch anywhere," Cama says. "But if you want to appeal to business accounts, you need to be in prominent locations. Build it, and they will come."

Investors will open new branches later this fall in Woodbridge, N.J., and Brooklyn, N.Y., its first branches in both cities. Both locations will be leased, Cama says.

The $11.5 billion-asset company last week moved a supermarket branch in Kearny, N.J., to a freestanding building. Investors Bank, the retail name used by Investors Bancorp, is also moving to new locations in six New Jersey cities where it already has branches —Brick, Lakewood, Livingston, Lyndhurst, Marlboro and Spring Lake Heights. The new branches in Lakewood and Lyndhurst will open this fall, and the Brick, Livingston, Marlboro and Spring Lake Heights branches will open next year.

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