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Tuesday 02nd of November 2010
December 17, 2007    

Expansion programme for Abbey National

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by Kay Murchie

Abbey National, owned by the Spanish Bank Santander, has revealed plans to open a further 300 branches nationwide over the next 5 years. This will increase its 700-strong branch network to 1,000.

The news follows complaints about Abbey’s customer service procedures, some of which involve dealing with overseas call centres.

The announcement also follows expansion plans revealed by High Street names. HBOS, which owns Halifax, has spent £100 million to open at least 50 branches and enlarge a further 50. HSBC is also spending £400 million on 50 branches in new locations.

According to reports, Abbey will consider a number of locations but the branches will be in the North-east and Midlands, areas in which Abbey has admitted to being under-represented.

Since Santander took Abbey over in November 2004, the Spanish bank has stripped out costs from Abbey and reduced its workforce from 25,000 to 16,000. As a part of the Abbey expansion, Santander has been updating the bank’s information technology systems, which are reportedly behind long customer delays in its probate department. It is moving approximately 18 million customers from several computer systems to a single one.

Last week, Santander posted strong results. Since the Abbey take-over, the share price has increased by over 50%. At the half-year in 2007, Abbey showed an increase in its net profit of 20% over a year, its costs relative to its income have fallen from 70% to 50.2%.

Abbey is the UK’s third-largest lender.

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