Barclays axes Fair & Square due to low market demand

Fair & Square, the Barclays-owned secured-loans company, which is aimed at the mainstream market, is being axed just six months after launching with a 5m marketing blitz.

Fair & Square, the Barclays-owned secured-loans company, which is aimed at the mainstream market, is being axed just six months after launching with a £5m marketing blitz.

It joins sister brand Firstplus, famed for its ads starring Countdown co-host Carol Vorderman, in closing its doors to new customers from August.

The Barclays division claims that despite trying a “whole range” of activities, such as launching Fair & Square, demand remained weak. However, Firstplus says it will continue to service the 128,000 existing First Plus customers, which also include the Secured Barclayloan and Secured Loan by Barclaycard products.

Fair & Square was launched in January this year, with an ad campaign by Bartle Bogle Hegarty and media planning and buying through Walker Media (MW January 10). BBH also helped develop the brand, which aimed to overcome the “stigma” and controversy surrounding secured loans.

The brand was targeted at the B to C demographic, above the lower socio-economic groups that Firstplus catered for. It launched with a brand campaign across terrestrial channels and peak-time TV slots, rather than the daytime direct response spots favoured by its rivals.

Neil Radley, managing director of the Firstplus division, says: “In the past year we have tried a whole range of activities to develop our business, but the market demand simply isn’t strong enough.”

Around 300 staff will be cut from the operation’s 430-strong workforce, although Barclays says “every effort” is being made to find alternative roles across the group. It is not known if marketing director Chris Warin is among those affected.

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