Northern Rock apologises to customers

Beleaguered bank Northern Rock has launched a high profile crisis management campaign to reassure customers that their cash is safe, while controversially continuing an ad push for its unsecured loans.

The bank has rolled-out a press campaign in national and regional papers, taking full page ads to publish an open letter from chief executive Adam Applegarth. He apologises to customers for “anxiety and inconvenience” caused by Northern Rock’s situation.

The ad, which ends with the strapline “We’re open”, is also an attempt to halt the flow of customers withdrawing millions of pounds of savings from the bank.

It follows the dramatic intervention of the Bank of England last week, which is lending the Newcastle-based financial services company funds until the credit crunch eases.

The bank has seen thousands of worried savers withdraw money from accounts. Its reliance on aggressively building its mortgage business by borrowing from other banks has seen Northern Rock suffer more than rivals through the sub-prime mortgage crisis in America triggered earlier this summer by an increase in US base rate.

Applegarth hopes to reassure customers by insisting: “We remain a well-managed company and continue to be a safe place for your savings, loans and mortgages.”

He also points to the pledge made by Chancellor Alistair Darling, who last night guaranteed every penny of Northern Rock customers’ cash would be safe. He adds: “These have been troubled times but Northern Rock will prevail. We will not let you down. Messages have also been posted on the home page of Northern Rock’s website.

But in the same newspapers the crisis-hit bank continues to push its products and services. An ad for the bank’s unsecured loan urges customers “fishing around for a low rate” to try Northern Rock.

The Northern Rock is £25m shirt sponsor of Newcastle United Football Club. Its agencies of record are Cravens Advertising and MediaVest Manchester.

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