There were rumours swirling this week that we could see yet another old banking brand returning to the high street. HSBC announced a restructuring that will see the loss of around 8,000 jobs in the UK and the closure of up to 120 branches. But it also said it was considering renaming the retail branch network ahead of an expected sell-off of the UK business, as the bank concentrates on its Asian operations, where it made almost four-fifths of its profits last year.
The HSBC chief Stuart Gulliver said the bank will consult customers on the name change, and while it could adopt the name of its successful online operation First Direct, the favourite option looks to simply resurrect the long-dead Midland bank brand. That was last seen on our high streets in 1999 when, seven years after snapping up the British bank, HSBC decided to brand it with its own name. Would it be foolish to bring back the listening bank now?
I've no doubt some would welcome the old name with fondness, but I expect we will just see a rerun of the recent relaunch of TSB, when Lloyds was forced to hive off around 600 branches. It attempted to trade on the goodwill engendered by the old brand, but TSB will soon become yet another foreign-owned bank when it is taken over by the Spanish outfit Sabadell later this year. The Midland, if it becomes that, will almost certainly face a similar fate.
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