Vernon W. Hill II, founder of the former Commerce Bancorp, has started advertising his new British bank, Metro Bank, with blue-and-red Commerce-style banners and a heart logo, on branch sites in middle-class London neighborhoods, reports Britain's Guardian newspaper. Story and picture here.

Metro's banner message, in a Britain weary of financial ruin: "LOVE YOUR BANK"

"Metro Bank is thought to have ambitions to launch as many as 200 branches across the country," writes the Guardian. "Hill and marketing veteran Anthony Thomson are directors the bank. Neither, though, has yet been authorised by the Financial Services Authority..."

Yet despite the global financial depression, Hill is starting Metro at a convenient time: European financial authorities are forcing Royal Bank of Scotland (owner of Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania) and Lloyds Banking Group (not affiliated with Lloyds of London) to sell off branches; the UK government has pledged to replace them with "new entrants" serving neighborhood markets.

Meanwhile, Hill's U.S. bank, a planned combination of Hill-backed Republic Bank of Philadelphia and Harrisburg's Metro Bank (formerly Commerce of Pennsylvania, an ex-affiliate of Commerce Bancorp), faces delays from government regulators who are scrambling to close troubled banks, not help new ones.

But Hill's still putting his old band back together. Robert B. Worley is the latest ex-Commerce Bancorp manager to join Republic First since Hill got involved last year. This week Worley joined the company as Senior Vice President and Market Manager for New Jersey, after quitting a job as Washington, DC Market President for TD Bank of Toronto, which acquired Worley's services when it bought Commerce two years ago.

Worley's NJ cred: He was for 14 years head of Commerce's key Burlington County market. Earlier Republic hires of TD's Commerce veterans here and here.