I’m loyal to Halifax, says new boss of bank giant

LLOYDS Banking’s top man visited Halifax to rally his staff and pledge his commitment to them and the town.

Chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio told them of his mission to make the bank the best – with the Halifax brand at the forefront of its future.

Just a week after his strategic review in which he announced a further 15,000 job cuts by 2014, Mr Horta-Osorio said difficult decisions were needed to move the bank into healthy profit.

But, he told the Courier, there were exciting plans ahead with the relaunch of the Halifax brand in September – and said it was a brand he had much admired during his time working for the Abbey, which later became Santander.

“We are commited to Halifax and Yorkshire, which will continue to be important in the future,” he said.

“Otherwise I would not be coming here.”

When Lloyds TSB took over the Halifax in January 2009, the Courier repeatedly asked then chief executive Eric Daniels to come to Halifax to talk to staff.

US-born Daniels never showed.

Mr Horta-Osorio told the Courier he had decided to keep a multi-brand strategy which will see Halifax compete with the Lloyds brand and others on the high street.

The heritage of the Halifax was a valuable asset and he sees it as a challenging brand having proved itself a market leader. He said it had a reputation for introducing new products and producing innovative offerings to customers across its services.

“When I was competing with the Halifax I respected the brand very much,” he said.

Once a disposal of non-Halifax branches has taken place, the bank will move forward, with 1,300 Lloyds, 650 Halifax and 300 Bank of Scotland branches.

And it is committed to maintaining that number.

Mr Horta-Osorio said the 15,000 job cuts announced didn’t mean 15,000 people would lose their jobs.

He said the bank took on 10,000 staff annually and with redeployment and other measures the figure would be much less.

It employs around 6,000 in Calderdale – mainly at ex-HBOS powerhouses Trinity Road and Copley Data Centre He said the staff he met at Trinity Road and the Halifax and Lloyds branches in Commercial Street had given him a warm welcome.

“You have to be with front-line staff,” he said.

“And it’s very important the team are aligned to move quickly and start implementing our strategy, but it will take time to execute the plans.”

He also said the bank was mindful of its corporate responsibility and community support and as it prospered that would bring greater benefits for local groups.