Santander to brand UK portfolio
Grupo Santander, the Spanish banking giant is to rename its UK estate of 1,300 Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley branches by the end of 2010.
This is totally contrary to its stated intention, made only a few months ago, that all brands would be retained for fear of alienating customers. At that time, the head of marketing for Santander UK, Keith Moor, said that the migration to one brand would be very gradual witih “just a little more red introduced over time, and a bit more imagery to do wit hthe Santander brand.”
The cost of the rebrand is put at £12m but it is estimated that integrating all businesses in the UK would save about £180m. Santander has already incorporated its flame logo into the Abbey branding.
The first name changes will begin in June, with Abbey credit cards being rebranded, while the renaming of branches will begin next year, with Abbey and B&B first to be overhauled.
The Santander brand currently operates in over 40 countries worldwide, but to date has only received UK exposure through its sponsorship of the Formula One British Grand Prix. Recent advertising for the high-street banks has also carried the strapline ‘We are Santander’.
António Horta-Osório argues that there will be advantages for the customer of bringing together the three brands. “It will be even easier for customers to manage their finances as they will have access to over 1,300 branches once the change is complete,’ said António Horta-Osório, chief executive of Santander’s UK businesses. ‘With this in mind the time is right to make the move to a single UK identity as Santander, a powerful new force in the UK banking.’
The three now defunct brands of Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and Brandford & Bingley all currently have payment card products, which will be reissued as Santander cards.
Santander is the second biggest banking group in the world, after HSBC. Santander’s Antonio Horta-Osorio says it is aiming to add a million new current accounts in the UK this year.
The euro-zone’s largest bank by market capitalization had 7.5 million current account holders at the end of last year, and added 257,000 new clients in the first quarter of the year. It is promoting itself as a “safe haven” for customers, away from the problems affecting the rest of the banking industry.
As well as Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley card portfolios, Santander also owns the cahoot credit card brand, and private retail card business GE Capital Bank, together with Cater Allen, and a business titled Santander Cards UK.
Santander’s UK businesses currently issue both MasterCard and Visa branded card products and it is unclear at this stage what difference the rebranding will make to market share.
Gemalto and Oberthur are both major suppliers to Grupo Santander.