Virgin Money moves into high street banking Deal paves the way for retail bank

08 January 2010

Virgin money logo

Virgin Money has today taken over a small private bank, making its first move towards building up a retail banking business in the UK.

Virgin, which already offers personal finance products including credit cards and insurance policies, will pay £12.3m for Church House Trust, a regional bank based in Yeovil and Leeds. Virgin is also expected to inject more than £37m of new capital into Church House Trust.

The buyout has already been approved by the Financial Services Authority and will provide the firm with the banking licence it needs to begin taking retail deposits and offering mortgages under the Virgin Money brand.

Virgin bank account benefits

Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin group, said: ‘The Church House Trust business offers us a strong platform for growth. Virgin Money aims to bring simplicity to the UK banking market which has traditionally been a complex sector.’

Which? Chief Executive Peter Vicary-Smith said: ‘Consumers will welcome the prospect of more choice on the high street. There’s a definite appetite for switching accounts if people feel they’ve been badly treated by their bank.

‘New entrants in the market offering genuinely competitive products should spur other banks into working harder to keep their customers happy, which should result in better products and higher levels of service.’

Find the best bank account for you

If you’re fed up with your bank – whether it’s because you’re being paid a poor rate of interest or are sick of bad customer service – why not take your business elsewhere?

Which? has launched the Vote With Your Feet campaign for 2010, urging consumers who aren’t being treated well by the companies they deal with to switch providers.

Our independent current accounts review could help you find the best bank account for your needs, whether you’re after a high in-credit interest rate or in need of a low-cost overdraft facility. Our How to switch current accounts guide also contains everything you need to know about changing your bank.

pound coins

Which? Money when you need it

You can follow @WhichMoney on Twitter to keep up-to-date with our Best Rates and Recommended Provider product and service reviews.

Sign up for the latest money news, best rates and recommended providers in your newsletter every Friday.

Or for money-saving tips, and news of how what's going on in the world of finance affects you, join Melanie Dowding and James Daley for the Which? Money weekly money podcast

For daily consumer news, subscribe to the Which? news RSS feed here. And to find out how we work for you on money issues, visit our personal finance campaigns pages.