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Barclays pulls the plug on Woolwich brand

Barclays pulls the plug on Woolwich brand

Barclays has confirmed that, 15-years after buying the former building society, the Woolwich brand is being dropped.

A spokesman for Barclays said the end of the brand “will be a very gradual process” with mortgage holders still receiving paper documents with the Woolwich name appearing, although the websites will now feature the Barclays name.

“The Woolwich identity is one that we’ve maintained for the past 15 years since acquiring the business in 2000,” said the spokesman.

“Since that time we’ve ensured that the Woolwich brand is harnessed, leveraging the heritage and legacy to deliver a market-leading mix of products and service for our mortgage customers. Our positioning of Woolwich however has always been in conjunction with Barclays.

“Going forward, the decision has been made to communicate the mortgages proposition/service through Barclays as the primary brand for simplicity reasons. This will have no detrimental impact on customers, brokers or lending.”

The Woolwich Equitable Building Society was founded back in 1847 in the office of local solicitor Frederick Pearce, to receive the savings of Woolwich people and to finance home ownership in the area.

Business was initially carried out from Pearce’s office, and later from the home of the secretary, Benjamin Wates. It wasn’t until November 1862 that the Woolwich finally opened its first formal office.

At the time of its centenary in 1947 the Woolwich had 43 branches, assets of more than £50m, and 600 staff.

During the 1960s and 1970s, growth was rapid as home ownership boomed. By 1970, the Woolwich employed 1,500 staff, half of them in its head offices, and the other half throughout its branch network of just in excess of 100 offices.

It was in 1997 that the Woolwich converted to a public limited company.

Three years later it was bought by Barclays, but the Woolwich continued to operate as a separate entity and the process of amalgamation was gradual.

However, in 2007, Woolwich branches disappeared from British high streets as they were either closed (and their business transferred to the local Barclays branch), or transformed in to Barclays branches.

The Woolwich name, however, had lived on as Barclays’ mortgage business.

emma.hughes@ft.com

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