Santander has today begun the rebranding of Abbey and Bradford & Bingley branches.
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 B&B branches.
It plans to carry out a similar exercise on its 300 Alliance & Leicester (A&L) branches during the third quarter of the year.
Antonio Horta-Osorio, chief executive of Santander's UK businesses, said, '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.'
Abbey and B&B customers will now be able to carry out transactions in any Santander branch, regardless of which group they formerly belonged to.
In terms of what this means going forward, Kevin Mountford, head of banking at moneysupermarket.com, pointed out, 'It'll be interesting to see how Santander brings the two brands and products into alignment over the coming months, as well as A&L which will follow later on in the year. Both Abbey and A&L are strong contenders in the current account market and have noticeably strengthened and maintained their offerings.
‘The disadvantage of bringing these brands under one roof is it reduces competition so customers should make sure they are on the best deals and be prepare to switch to better products if they are not.’
There may be some customers who are wary of foreign banks given the crises of last year which saw some overseas brands struggle and, in some cases, collapse. However, Santander is a huge global bank that is well managed and is also covered under the UK's FSCS scheme which means that UK customers would be able to recoup up to £50,000 if the bank did run into problems.