UK financial institutions that are owned by Spanish banking giant Santander, including Abbey, Alliance & Leicester, and Bradford & Bingley, will be rebranded under their parent bank next year.
The Santander global brand and name will be adopted by all of its UK businesses, which will bring the total number of Santander branches on the UK's high streets to 1,300 by the end of 2010.
Abbey and Bradford & Bingley will be the first to lose their brand names; they are scheduled for the makeover in the first quarter of 2010. Alliance & Leicester will follow suit by the end of the year.
Santander bought Abbey in 2004, and continued to develop its presence in the UK banking sector when it acquired Alliance & Leicester, and part of Bradford & Bingley last year.
Once all of the necessary technical changes have been made, all Abbey, Bradford & Bingley, and Alliance & Leicester's 25 million customers will be able to make transactions across Santander's network of UK branches.
Santander believes that the move will prove to be a "significant advantage" to its savings account
customers, who will be able to use 1,000 branches when Abbey
rebrand, and 1,300 when A&L
also takes on its new identity.
The long-established British institutions will join the global brand of Santander, which is already seen in more than 40 countries around the world.
"We know from speaking to our customers that they value and appreciate the strength and financial security that being part of a world-class global bank offers particularly in the new global banking environment," said António Horta-Osório, chief executive of Santander's UK businesses."
Commenting on today's announcement about the rebranding, Kevin Mountford, head of banking at moneysupermarket.com, said that "although some consolidation within the banking sector as a whole has to be anticipated, we are now seeing the emergence of a new banking super brand.
He added: "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."
Mr Mountford is concerned that competition will be threatened under a combined entity. "Whilst there will be a reduction in choice and competition from the re-branding exercise, I hope Santander will continue to challenge the main high street banks by offering good value products and excellent customer service," he said. Abbey credit cards
will be rebranded later in 2009, with all new cards and replacement cards being issued under the Santander name.
Also later this year, Abbey and Alliance & Leicester's corporate and commercial banks will be reamed, but Santander's specialist-market brands will retain their existing names, such as Abbey for Intermediaries, the online bank
cahoot, and the international businesses of Abbey, A&L and B&B.
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