Woolwich to vanish from high street${standfirst}

29 June 2006

The Woolwich name is to disappear from the high street after 160 years.

From next February, Woolwich branches will gradually start being re-branded as Barclays branches; those within 300 metres of a Barclays will merge with it.

Woolwich mortgages at Barclays

Woolwich, which was founded in 1847 and was bought by Barclays in October 2000, currently has 373 branches across the UK.

The Woolwich name will be kept as the bank's mortgage brand and offered by Barclays at its 2,000 or so branches.

Barclays says the combined network will give the Woolwich's 3.8 million mortgage holders access to four times as many branches as well as extra services such as travel and motor insurance and local business banking.

Accounts transferred

A quarter of the Woolwich's 3.8 million mortgage holders also have current or savings accounts with the firm, which will be transferred to equivalent Barclays accounts in the upheaval.

Barclays UK Retail Banking Chief Executive Deanna Oppenheimer said: 'Our focus will be on enhancing the Woolwich brand, improving the branch network, and streamlining back office processing...these improvements will make all of our branches available to all of our customers, who will see familiar faces serving them in better looking and better equipped premises.'

Barclays' plan was tested in Aberdeen last year when the Barclays and Woolwich branches were merged under the Barclays brand. Barclays says this branch is now ranked in the top five in its network for customer service and commercial achievement.