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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 September, 2003, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Abbey axes National habit
Abbey chief Luqman Arnold, customer director Angus Porter
Abbey's Luqman Arnold and Angus Porter unveil the bank's new look
One of the most familiar banking names on the High Street is to disappear as Abbey National announces a major rebranding exercise.

The bank has decided to ditch the "National" part of its name and unveiled a new logo and slogan in a bid to revive its flagging fortunes.

Angus Porter, the group's customer director, said: "Abbey is much more than a shorter name and new design.

"We still have a long way to go and we won't change everything overnight but we are sending a clear signal to our customers that we intend to be truly different."

A three-year overhaul of the bank's operations was announced in February as it sank into the red with a 984m full year loss after a disastrous foray into wholesale banking.

The episode also resulted in former chief Ian Harley being forced out of his post last summer.

New focus

The firm has since concentrated on UK personal financial services.

Results for the first six months of 2003 posted in July showed pre-tax losses of 144m.

Under the revamp, expected to cost 11m, Abbey will replace its slogan of "because life is complicated enough" with "turning banking on its head".

The company said the change reflected "a radical and fundamental transformation about how it thinks about customers".

Under the plans, masterminded by chief executive Luqman Arnold, the bank it is introducing simpler accounts and services and will end the use of banking jargon.

Abbey National logo
The familiar couple under the umbrella will go from Abbey's logo
As a result its six different current accounts will be replaced with just one - The Account.

Mr Arnold said: "We're not the only bank to recognise the need to make our offers easier to understand - but we are committed to applying this to everything we do."

Mr Porter added: "Today is the first step on a long road to becoming the new Abbey.

"In the next few weeks and months we will be simplifying even more of our accounts and services, getting more of the basics right.

"By early next year, customers will start to see and experience a real difference."

Shake-up

Abbey also said plans to rationalise its brands.

Its internet bank Cahoot will remain a separate brand, but" will be more closely aligned to Abbey," the company said.

Its Scottish Mutual and Scottish Provident brands will be replaced by the new Abbey brand.

The group added it is planning to hire an extra 600 people to work in its telephone centres and branches, and will also provide an extra 60,000 training days this year for employees dealing directly with customers.

A spokesman for the firm said the move was "more than just dropping the name".

"Externally and internally its signals a change at the bank in one fell swoop," he added.

The bank has been called Abbey National since 1944 when the Abbey Road Building Society and the National Building Society merged to form Britain's second-biggest mortgage lender.

In 1989, the mutually owned company listed on the stock market.




SEE ALSO:
Abbey staff told to reapply
04 May 03  |  Business
Investors cheer Abbey reforms
30 Jul 03  |  Business
Customers 'duped' by bank ads
21 Mar 03  |  Business
Abbey National slumps into loss
26 Feb 03  |  Business
Abbey National slashes bonuses
06 Feb 03  |  Business


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