Magazine article Management Today

Brain Food: Behind the Spin - Abbey

Magazine article Management Today

Brain Food: Behind the Spin - Abbey

Article excerpt

THE DILEMMA

Life has become complicated for Britain's sixth-largest bank. Abbey (formerly Abbey National) suffered a record pounds 686 million loss last year, caused in part by its disastrous foray into corporate banking - a strategy it is now reneging on. Drafted in two years ago to turn round the fortunes of the ailing mortgage lender, CEO Luqman Arnold and COO Stephen Hester instituted a three-year restructuring scheme, the benefits of which they hope to start reaping later this year. Yet first-quarter results for 2004 showed profits at the bank's core personal finance services lower than last year, and Abbey admitted that the profit outlook for the division was 'moderately weaker than originally expected' and that attempts to revive its fortunes were proving to be 'tough work'.

THE SPIN

Arnold heralded Abbey National's new start with an pounds 11 million Wolff Olins image makeover. Out went 'National' and the boring red umbrella.

In came soft-focus 'Abbey', pastel colours and a jargon-free approach to customer communication. 'Banks have managed to make money scary, confusing and boring,' he said, hoping the new brand would 'change the whole tone of how we speak to our customers and how we behave towards them'. …

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