Britannia name to disappear from high street
THE Britannia name is to disappear from the high street by the end of this year.
The Co-operative Bank has announced it will rebrand all Britannia branches over the next 12 months, signalling the end of an era for the building society.
The Co-operative will also close 37 Britannia branches across the country following its merger with the Leek-based building society in 2009.
The Britannia branch in Crewe is among those to shut while the Stafford branch will merge with the town's Co-operative Bank.
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However, it has been confirmed that the change will not affect the current contract with Stoke City regarding sponsorship of the Britannia Stadium.
The move will lead to 34 job losses, mainly at a managerial level, while the bulk of the 188 staff employed across affected banks are being relocated to neighbouring branches.
Staff at Britannia's head office in Birchall are said to be unaffected by the move. Britannia was first known as the Leek & Moorlands Permanent Benefit Building Society.
In May 1847, it had 204 members, and in 1921, assets passed the £1 million mark for the first time. It undertook a number of mergers over the following years and became known as Britannia in 1975, when it merged with the Oldbury Britannia Building Society.
About 130,000 ST post code residents joined the Co-operative when it merged with Co-operative Financial Services.
Leek Mayor Pam Wood, left, said: "Leek is losing its heritage in one fell swoop. I feel like the town is being sold out.
"A lot of people joined Britannia because it was local and they felt like they owned it. A lot of people will be disappointed that the brand is now going.
"Britannia was a major employer for Leek and this makes me fear for the future."
Leek historian Bill Cawley added: "Britannia has a long association with Leek and has become part of the fabric of the town. Changing the name will erode the Britannia identity, and makes you fearful for the future of Britannia in Leek."
The Co-operative will have just over 300 branches following the closures, but it is poised to buy more than 630 that are being offloaded by Lloyds Banking Group to appease EU rules on state aid.
The deal is worth up to £750 million and will boost The Co-operative's branch network to nearly 1,000. The group has cut around £70 million in costs following the Britannia merger and had originally planned a three-year integration to combine the businesses.
But John Hughes, managing director of retail banking at The Co-operative Bank, said the Co-op had sought to ensure a 'staged and measured' integration following the deal.
A spokesman for The Co-operative said: "The changes we have announced have no impact on our current contract with Stoke City regarding sponsorship of the Britannia Stadium which runs up to the end of the 2013/14 season."