Around 300 branches in London and the South East will be the first to undergo the name change, followed by outlets across the rest of the country during the coming three weeks.
By the end of January the group aims to have rebranded all 1,000 of its Abbey and Bradford & Bingley branches. It plans to carry out a similar exercise on its 300 Alliance & Leicester branches during the third quarter of the year. Plans to rebrand branches were unveiled in May 2009.
Under the rebrand, Abbey and Bradford & Bingley customers will now be able to carry out transactions in any Santander branch, regardless of which group they formerly belonged to. The group is also in the process of rebranding customers’ cards, cheque books and pass books. Carat will be its media planning and buying agency.
Antonio Horta-Osorio, chief executive of Santander’s UK businesses, says: “The success of our UK business has given us the confidence to move to the Santander name now and with it deliver the next phase of our transformation programme and make 1,300 branches available to our 25 million customers in the UK.”
The group now has 25 million UK customers, and is actively seeking to grow its share of the current account and mortgage markets. It has cut 1900 UK jobs as part of a programme to save £180m by the end of 2011.
To mark the start of its rebranding exercise, it has launched a fee-free Zero account, which is available to mortgage customers only, while Abbey and Bradford & Bingley current account customers will also be able to make free cash withdrawals from Santander ATMs in Spain.
The official arrival of Spain’s financial institution will be marketed to UK consumers through a multimillion pound advertising campaign, created by WCRS.
Santander recently signed a five-year sponsorship deal with the Ferrari F1 team.