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Last Updated: Friday, 30 April, 2004, 14:31 GMT 15:31 UK
Abbey struggles to lift fortunes
Abbey branch
Will the rebranding work?
UK bank Abbey has admitted its attempts to revive its fortunes are proving to be "tough work".

The bank said first-quarter profits and margins at its core personal finance services were lower than last year.

It added that that the profit outlook for the division was "moderately weaker than originally expected".

Abbey has sought to refocus its business around personal financial services after a disastrous foray into corporate banking.

(Restructuring) is tough work and is inevitably having some negative impact on current trading
Luqman Arnold, Abbey chief executive

The restructuring exercise has seen the firm change its retail name from Abbey National to just Abbey.

Mixed performance

The bank said it should return to profit this year, after reporting a 686m loss in 2003.

"We are making good progress and the restructuring efforts remain on schedule 14 months into our three year plan," said chief executive Luqman Arnold.

But he added: "It is tough work and is inevitably having some negative impact on current trading."

Trading profit at the firm's personal financial services unit was lower than the average quarterly profit of 216.5m seen in the second half of 2003, the firm said.

Sales performance was mixed, Abbey said, with "satisfactory" progress in sales of unsecured personal loans but disappointing results from savings and investments.

Investors were unimpressed, and Abbey's shares ended the day on the London Stock Exchange down 15p at 420p.

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