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Creation

In the mid-twentieth century, the young priest Jose Mª Arizmendiarrieta created the seed of the cooperatives that gave rise to Grupo Mondragon, where Caja Laboral was created. The aim was for Caja Laboral to contribute "social, economic, and business services" to the industrial cooperatives. It had to obtain funds from the cooperative members to be allocated to their own needs. In addition, in order to organize Social Welfare and Security coverage it launched the Provision Service, laying the foundations for what is now Lagun-Aro.

On 1st February 1960 it opened its first branch, on Ferrerías Street in Mondragon. This branch was followed by others in Aretxabaleta, Elorrio, Placencia, Oñati... with a geographical expansion in which cooperatives emerged.

Around 1962, an Aidit413 was acquired, allowing the progression from hand-written entries to machine accounting. In 1964, the Markina branch was opened, with a female manager, Maite Garcia, which was quite unusual at the time. Caja Laboral started to become the superstructure institution destined to carry out the Group's business, financial, industrial and social coordination. In 1966 the first Mobile Branch was launched, for which a "minibus" was fitted out to visit rural towns and villages.

On 2nd October 1965, a meeting was held at the Spanish Artisan Trade Show, located at 21 Rodriguez Arias Street in Bilbao, with a large group of representatives of agricultural cooperatives from Bizkaia.

On 1st October 1966 it opened its doors to the public for the first time at 8 Alameda de Urquijo Street, in central Bilbao

The joint general management between Beyena, Uteco and Caja Rural was created, forming the much desired single address of the Biscay agricultural cooperative complex. New branches start to open.

Expansion 1975-1982

In a period of crisis that began in 1974, the mutual support of the cooperatives and Caja Laboral’s generous attitude was a key factor in the Group’s Development.

There were 64 branches and 464 shareholders in 1975, and new branches were continually being opened.

In 1976, J.M. Arizmendiarrieta passed away leaving behind him a seed that would live on to the present time.

Throughout 1979 a ministerial order extended Caja Laboral’s capacity to open “Emigrant” and “Home”, savings accounts, granting it powers regarding Foreign operations, given the importance of the Cooperatives’ foreign business.

In the contribution of the Social Projects Fund there was significant support for culture, such as the promotion of the Basque Language or the reports of the Basque Economy.

In 1980, the first two Caja Laboral cash machines were installed and the first Credit Cards were commercialised.

The images of the Basque Country, taken by the Eguiguren brothers provide a face to the Bank’s values in this period.

Beyena soon started to show signs of needing important injections of capital over and over again.

The great involvement of the workers in the villages meant that people rated the savings bank very highly.

They discovered new ways of increasing the customer base. Caja Rural appeared wherever there was any agricultural-fisheries activity.

The seventies was the decade of rural expansion for the savings bank. Year after year they would open new branches in the most important agricultural-stockbreeding towns in Bizkaia.

In April 1976, it purchased the historic Hotel Almirante building. And on 6th February 1980 it moved its headquarters to this building.

The workers had to start from the bottom, getting to know the basics of the trade.

Consolidation 1982-1987

It had 141 Branches at the beginning of 1983, distributed between Bizkaia, Alava, Gipuzkoa and Nafarroa.

Besides being the financial backing for the associated cooperatives, at that time it was given a boost by developing the business with private customers, with products such as financing in shops and mortgage loans.

In August 1983, after the Bilbao floods, the Branch at El Arenal was completely flooded, as was the Ipar Kutxa Branch.

Over these years, Caja Laboral was a great support for initiatives like Ikerlan (research), or Hezibide Elkartea, in the area of teaching and training.

It reached the figure of 1226 worker-shareholders in 1984.

A pioneering experience was set up with the Caja Laboral VISA Euskocard for payment at the 27 Eroski pay points in Vitoria-Gazteiz.

The group made a commitment to exports with Caja Laboral’s continuous financial support.

There were more than 600,000 Caja Laboral customers in 1986 and it continued the process of opening new Branches.

In 1986, the Euskotex service was set up, which was the precursor of CLnet, internet banking.

And at the end of 1987, the cooperative experience already provided 20,400 jobs between its companies, and the financial and business positions were consolidated.

Relations with the institutions took on greater importance. The loans quadrupled from 1985.

Contact began with many different small businesses.

Technological progress. Teleprocessing, the revolution had arrived.

Floods in Bilbao, 1983. Amongst mud, upturned tables and chairs, they continued to provide a service on the first floor.

Merger with Caja Rural de Alava, 1986. The small bank from Alava only had 2 branches.

Other business model 1987-1992

The major new developments in Savings-Investment arrived at Caja Laboral. Focus was placed on mortgage loans and the increase of the “Commercial discount” business for companies.

It continued to focus on technological innovation and it now had 87 cash machines.

For the first time in an advertising campaign an advertisement on television was included.

It continued to focus on the commercialisation of cards within the Visa system, keeping the name EuskoCard, until Visa made the term ServiRed obligatory.

At the end of 1988, alongside Seguros Lagun-Aro, it began to provide services like General Insurance, Life Insurance, etc.

Caja Laboral began a process of strategic reflection to tackle the 1990’s with the help of the McKinsey firm.

Structural changes were made for the adaptation of the Business Division to the new organisation of Caja Laboral and the Mondragón Cooperative Group.

There was now an offer of products adapted to the customers’ needs, such as the Superlibreta, Supercuenta, Insurance, Pension Savings, Leasing, services for SME’s…

The insurance that Caja Laboral commercialises is provided through Lagun Aro, in which Caja Laboral has a 35% shareholding, Lagun-Aro EPSV, in which it has a 45% shareholding and Unipol SpA (Italian), in which it has a 20% shareholding.

In 1992 it launched the new corporate image, which was more modern and dynamic and highlighted the magenta colour, which helped it stand out in the market, as well as the “key” that had accompanied it throughout the Bank’s entire history.

Caja Rural Vasca grew in liquidity and in loan investment.

The General Meetings were held on Saturdays at the Teatro Coliseo Albia.

In 1992, Izarpensión was founded, the voluntary social prevision institution.

New Services 1992-1999

Another stage began in which special emphasis was placed on improving the quality of service, a focus that is still present in our organization today.

The interest rate of the Superlibreta remained high, and it already had more than 225,000 holders, and the bank joined the mortgage war right from the start.

In 1994, a branch was opened in Cantabria for the first time, in the town of Castro Urdiales.

And in 1995 it started to open branches in the afternoon for the first time, when other banks in the sector were closed.

We received various awards, such as the one from DATAMONITOR, placing us third in the European profitability ranking. Or The Banker, placing us No. 38 in the world for solvency.

Gaztenpresa was created to promote initiatives by young entrepreneurs (98).

In 1998 the online stock exchange services were created.

New era 2000-2009

Efforts to maintain quality were reflected by the award of the golden Q for quality, as the first European credit institution to achieve it.

It continues to focus on the Internet Channel aimed at Companies, and it surpassed the barrier of 10,000 active companies.

In 2004 it made the decision to create a department for property promotions to take advantage of the business contributed by that market.

At the time of the crisis of confidence that began back in 2007, CL was in a situation of historical maximum figures for recurring profits.

In 2008, it officially reached leadership in Quality of Service according to the STIGA report.

The Mondragón Group is one of the main European business groups, with a presence in 17 countries, and the largest in Europe in which its workers own a shareholding of more than 50%.

At the end of 2009 there were 394 Branches, more than 600 cash machines and almost 2000 working partners.

The arrival of the Euro. They assured us that prices would not change with the conversion.

Name change, Ipar Kutxa. One period had ended and a new one had begun.

In this new era, the bank opened up to SME’s and young people and entered Gipuzkoa.

In 2007, the new image was launched. Dialogue and communication is what the new logo transmitted.

In 2008, Ipar Kutxa was “clear proof that the impact of the crisis was not the same on all financial institutions”.

Despite the general financial crisis they had managed not only to keep defaulting at bay, but also to increase their liquidity ratio.

New Horizons 2010-2012

The policy of doing what we knew best, that is, the traditional business, was a maxim at that time.

The residents of Hernani discovered the first branch of Ipar Kutxa in Gipuzkoa, followed by those of Donostia, one month later. Tolosa, Eibar and Beasain would be the next objectives to reach the five branches that they had at the beginning 2012 in Gipuzkoa.

In recent years, it has stood out among the credit cooperatives for having one of the highest solvency ratios.

In 2011, the bank decided that its advertising campaign would feature real customers, as in the most recent studies carried out at that time, focusing on quality of service, Ipar Kutxa came out as the top financial institution with headquarters in the Basque Country in quality of service, which it shared with Caja Laboral, which had been the leading bank in that aspect until then.

It reached the figure of 80% of users who stated that they “would definitely recommend” or “would recommend” our bank.

It was the time of the restructuring of the banking sector. Ipar Kutxa was not the only one to reflect on mergers with other banks, which opened up the channels for possible agreements. The tendency is towards maintaining the cooperative essence and not losing the values that we have acquired over the years. This is where Ipar Kutxa is aiming to find its place.

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