Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley will soon disappear from the high street under a major re-brand by their owner Santander.
The Spanish bank says all its UK businesses will adopt the Santander brand and name by 2010. Around 1,000 Abbey and Bradford & Bingley branches will be rebranded during the first three months of 2010, with Alliance & Leicester following during the latter half of the year.
The exercise will kick-off with Abbey credit cards, which will be re-branded Santander in July 2009.
The change means that any customer of Abbey, Alliance & Leicester or Bradford & Bingley savings will be able to use any Santander branch to manage their accounts. In total, 1,300 branches will be re-branded, and Santander says it will maintain its high street presence in the UK.
António Horta-Osório, chief executive of Santander UK, says the change reflects the groups' policy to operate under a single global brand. The flame logo has already been incorporated into the Abbey logo.
“Bringing together the three brands means it will be even easier for customers to manage their finances as they will have access to over 1,300 branches once the change is complete,” he explains. “With this in mind, the time is right to make the move to a single UK identity as Santander, a powerful new force in the UK banking.”
Abbey has belonged to the Santander group of companies since 2004. The £8 billion acquisition was the Spanish bank’s first foray into the UK market, and also represented Europe's biggest cross-border bank takeover.
The onset of the banking crisis in 2008 gave it further opportunities to gain a foothold in the UK; in September it paid £612 million to take control of Bradford & Bingley’s savings business, and later bought Alliance & Leicester in a £1.3 billion deal.
Horta-Osório says: “Santander acquired Abbey in November 2004, we have set about transforming the business to reflect Santander’s business model and values. The group’s focus on retail banking means we have been able to improve Abbey’s efficiency, allowing us to introduce better value-for-money products for our customers and invest in our front-line services.”
The re-brand is more than just a logo change. Over the past three years, Santander has been moving its UK businesses onto its global IT platform, Partenon. It expects to complete this exercise by the end of 2010.
By maintaining just one IT system, Santander says its 25 million customers can transact “seamlessly” across its UK branch network, regardless of which bank they are with. It also allows Santander to offer its full range of products across all three banks.
Other Santander-owned UK businesses, including cahoot, Cater Allen and James Hay, will retain their existing names.