Cheltenham & Gloucester is to be the latest historic banking name to disappear from Britain's high streets. Lloyds Banking Group, which bought the former building society in 1994, is to shut all 164 C&G branches in November, it announced yesterday.
While the C&G brand will remain for savings and mortgage business, Lloyds said the physical network was being closed because of an overlap with its own branches, as well as those of Halifax Bank of Scotland, the banking group it acquired at the end of last year.
The closures, which will see C&G lose its representation on the high street for the first time since 1850, are part of a wider reorganisation of Lloyds' retail operations.
In total, the changes will result in the loss of 1,660 jobs across the Lloyds group, including more than 800 posts at C&G itself. Those cuts follow 3,000 lay-offs already announced by Lloyds since its merger with HBOS. The bank is under huge pressure to cut its costs, but faces criticism from unions, as well as from consumer groups concerned about its dominant market position.
Derek Simpson, the joint general secretary of Unite, described the job cuts as "nothing short of disgraceful". He added: "UK taxpayers have not poured billions of pounds into this organisation just to see it sack thousands of hard-working people." However, Lloyds said it made no sense to maintain C&G branches when its own outlets were, in the "overwhelming majority" of cases, sited less than 400 metres away.
Cheltenham & Gloucester is just the latest famous banking name to be consigned to history as a result of the credit crisis. Santander, the Spanish bank that now owns Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley, said last month that branches of these former building societies are to be rebranded with its name.