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BOSTON-Staples, Inc., and FleetBoston Financial Corp. has launched an alliance that will result in Fleet bringing small business banking services to Staples stores in the Northeast.

Fleet representatives will manage freestanding, 150-sf sales centers–called the Fleet Small Business Zone–inside 10 Staples stores. According to Deborah Hohler, spokesperson for Fleet, the locally based financial services company will be leasing the space directly from Staples. Customers will be able to open accounts at the Fleet centers and receive debit cards. In select Staples stores, Fleet will offer some small business products and services, enabling customers to open checking accounts and apply for loans.

In Massachusetts, Staples stores in Auburn, Natick and Shrewsbury will feature the Fleet center. In New Jersey, the centers will be in Bloomfield, Clifton, Millville, Riverdale, and Wayne Staples outlets. In Pennsylvania, Staples stores in Reading and Wyomissing will house the Fleet boutiques. All sites are expected to open by late summer.

Hohler tells GlobeSt.com that expansion of the program depends upon the success of these initial sites. “We’ll start with the 10 stores, evaluate how it goes and then determine what the next step will be,” she says.

Framingham, MA-based Staples Inc. is an $11-billion retailer of office supplies, business services, furniture and technology with 1,400 stores in the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal. FleetBoston is the seventh-largest financial holding company in the US with assets of $192 billion.

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