Bank branch sales creates more worry

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A NEW storm cloud hangs over bank workers as Lloyds starts brokering a deal to sell 632 branches to the Co-operative Group.

Under European rules Lloyds has to sell part of its branch assets to comply with European Community rules.

Halifax branches are not included but Lloyds TSB, Lloyds TSB Scotland and Cheltenham & Gloucester brands are.

Potentially, back office operations and functions could also be affected and concern has been expressed on the implications of a smaller Lloyds Banking Group after the deal is completed.

The bank employs 6,000 in Halifax at its Trinity Road offices and Copley data centre.

The Co-operative Group was this week named preferred bidder for the branch sale - known has Project Verde - and the development follows a three-year integration programme at Lloyds which resulted in tens of thousands of jobs being shed.

Lloyds has repeatedly insisted Halifax would remain a major centre and there has been no suggestion the town would be badly affected but detailed talks have yet to commence.

It is hoped terms of sale could be agreed early next year for the transaction by the end of November 2013 in line with the EC mandate.

But, Accord, the major union for ex-HBOS staff in Halifax, while welcoming the Co-op, said job security was a concern.

General Secretary Ged Nichols said: “The Co-op is much admired for high profile ethical policies.

“However, the real work must now begin on the essential issues of job security and the terms and conditions for those who may transfer to the Co-op Bank.

“There are also potentially knock on implications for the reduced scale Lloyds Banking Group which will emerge after the deal is completed.

“There are clearly implications - the Co-op Bank would almost double in size and there may well be over capacity in Lloyds Banking Group once the Verdy deal completes.

“We expect talks to begin in the New Year.”

The Co-op Group has headquarters in Manchester. It currently has 342 branches and in 2009 took over the Britannia Building Society.