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 moneysupermarket.com. "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

Abbey

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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

    £60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

    Data Analyst/Planning and Performance – Surrey – Up to £35k

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

    IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

    £24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

    Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

    £50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker