Building society work to topple

Design opportunities could dry up if gloomy forecasts from the City of the demise of building societies are realised. – Analysts at investment bank Merrill Lynch predict that price- cutting in the mortgage market will force building societies to sell out

Design opportunities could dry up if gloomy forecasts from the City of the demise of building societies are realised.

Analysts at investment bank Merrill Lynch predict that price- cutting in the mortgage market will force building societies to sell out to banks or bigger building societies.

“And if banks pick up building societies, they will lose the building society logo and literature,” according to an investment bank analyst Ian McEwan.

Justin Mould, managing director of City design group Facade, agrees. He predicts an initial “short-term flurry” of design activity as building societies repackage financial brands, followed by “long-term consolidation with designers having their fees diluted” as the smaller building society’s identity is replaced by that of its buyer.

City predictions have been borne out by recent activity as building societies “become gripped by merger fever”, according to a Woolwich spokeswoman. The building society, the UK’s third largest, is considering a merger with another society or bank and is rumoured to be having informal talks with Bradford & Bingley, according to Mould.

The Woolwich spokeswoman comments: “A merger is bound to lead to more design work – in the short-term.”

Abbey National, itself now a bank, is in talks with the National & Provincial, while Alliance & Leicester is in talks “with a number of societies, including Nationwide”, Mould adds.

The Leeds Permanent will adopt the Halifax’s identity when the two societies are merged

(DW 6 April).

A spokeswoman for the society says: “The design of literature will include new product names but nothing major.”

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