Spanish bank scraps a little history on the High Street

Santander to abandon three of the UK's most famous financial brands

One sold itself on the bowler-hatted integrity of City gentlemen. Another entered Britain's consciousness with the celebrated slogan, "Be a smarter investor with Alliance & Leicester." And a third 19th-century financial house was known best for a young couple sheltering under the safety of a green umbrella – an image that suggested stability and family values.

But now Bradford & Bingley, Alliance & Leicester and Abbey will each lose their identities and be despatched to the history books, after their new Spanish owner called time on more than 150 years of high street banking in Britain.

Consumers must wait to see how consolidation will affects individual branches and their once-competing financial products. All three logos will disappear by the end of next year, to be replaced by the red and white flame of Santander. The acquisitions of the mortgage lenders represents a considerable bet on the recovery of the British economy. The Spanish giant, which registered profits of £7.7bn in 2008 and has been a success story amid the sometime-chaos of the financial crisis, gained access to 18 million customers when it bought Abbey in 2004 for around £8bn, in Europe's biggest cross-border bank takeover.

In total there will be almost 1,300 Santander branches, the equivalent of 10 per cent of all high street branches in the UK. Existing customers of each company will be able to use all of the outlets. Santander's chief executive in the UK, Antonio Horta-Osorio, said the time was right to substitute the centuries-old British brands for the Spanish one. "People consider Santander as a very safe brand and consider their deposits very safe with us", he said.

At present, there are 700 Abbey branches, 254 Alliance & Leicester and 338 Bradford & Bingley outlets. Mr Horta-Osorio pledged that the £12m rebranding exercise would not lead to any of the branches being forced to close, or job losses for staff currently working in them. "It's important for customers who travel around the UK to have 1,300 branches to transact with – and they will have the same product and the same people facing them in the branches."

The Spanish firm, whose internet bank Cahoot will retain its identity, is the second biggest bank in the world, after HSBC. It said it hoped eventually to save around £180m by integrating the three businesses under a logo that now appears in over 40 countries.

Name changes will begin in earnest next month, when Abbey credit cards are rebranded, with branches of Abbey and B&B following suit early next year.

Santander said the rebranding will deliver "a significant advantage" for its 25 million customers. But banking analysts warned that the move could reduce competition on a high street already hit by the merger of HBOS and Lloyds TSB last year.

"When all the brands are combined under Santander, we must expect there to be a reduction in choice and competition", warned Kevin Mountford, head of banking at "Consumers will need to keep their eyes peeled to see how this will affect them, as there can be no doubt the consolidation process will leave some casualties," he said.

Last July Santander bought A&L in a £1.3m deal. In September the Government nationalised the mortgage book of B&B, leading to Santander's purchase of the ailing firm, Britain's biggest lender to landlords, for £612m.

Santander's sponsorship of Formula One motor racing, and in particular the British world champion Lewis Hamilton, has had a "major" impact on brand recognition, Mr Horta-Osorio added.

Savings: A 19th-century habit, a 21st-century casualty


In 1849, the National Freehold Land and Building Society formed. Twenty-five years later, the Abbey Road & St John's Wood Permanent Benefit Building Society was founded in a Baptist church in Kilburn, north London, and in 1927 moved to 219-229 Baker Street. Sherlock Holmes, who lived at the mythical 221B Baker Street, was a tenant of sorts. In 1944, Abbey Road and the National Building Society merged to form the Abbey Building Society. It demutualised in 1989, becoming the first building society to convert to banking status. Advertising slogan "Get the Abbey habit" was ditched in 2004 – along with the green umbrella couple – when it was bought by Santander.

Bradford & Bingley

Those twin bowler hats featured in a celebrated advertising campaign starring Mr Bradford and (later) Mrs Bingley. B&B owns the trademark on 100 variations, from the gesture of raising and lowering bowler hats (TM number: UK2130164) and stacked silhouettes of rainbow-coloured bowler hats (UK2184803), to an image of the hats blowing away in the wind (UK2168259). Bradford Second Equitable Building Society and the Bingley, Morton and Shipley Permanent Benefit Building Society merged in 1964, having both been founded in 1851. In December 2000 B&B demutualised and floated on the stock exchange.

Alliance & Leicester

The Leicester Permanent Benefit Society, formed in 1852, merged with Alliance Building Society (previously known as, and based in, Brighton & Sussex) in 1985. At the time it was the largest such merger ever, with combined assets of £7bn. Alliance was so named in 1945, capitalising on a spirit of national solidarity, and reflecting the series of mergers between local societies that Brighton & Sussex had undertaken through the previous decade. In 1990 A&L bought Girobank from the Post Office, the first time a building society had bought a bank.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
voicesBy the man who has
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

    Trust Accountant - Kent

    NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

    Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

    £18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

    Law Costs

    Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

    Day In a Page

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?