Britannia (former building society)
|Headquarters||Staffordshire Moorlands, United Kingdom|
|Niall Booker, Chief Executive|
|Products||Savings and Mortgages|
|Separate figures no longer published|
|Total assets||Separate figures no longer published|
Number of employees
|Separate figures no longer published|
|Parent||Co-operative Banking Group|
|Slogan||"Building a fairer society"|
Britannia is a former mutual building society which merged with the Co-operative Financial Services in 2009. It is now a trading name of the Co-operative Bank in the United Kingdom. Britannia was headquartered in Leek, Staffordshire, and was the second largest building society in the UK based on total assets of £36.8 billion at 31 December 2007. It became an important provider of both mortgages (including subprime mortgages through its Platform Home Loans subsidiary) and savings, as well as commercial lending.
Britannia was legally dissolved as a separate organisation on 1 August 2009 and merged into Co-operative Financial Services, to become a trading name of The Co-operative Bank. In January 2013, the Co-operative announced that the brand would be phased out by the end of 2013, and began rebranding branches under the Co-operative Bank name. However, the Co-operative Bank's own financial crisis resulted in the original plans being abandoned. Instead many Britannia branches were closed, and only a small number were retained and rebranded.
Britannia traces its history back to 1856, when the Leek and Moorlands Permanent Benefit Building Society was formed. By 1857, the Society had 204 members and by 1921, it had assets in excess of £1m. The Society evolved into today's Britannia through a series of mergers, firstly with Longton Mutual Permanent Benefit Building Society in 1938 and notably with the NALGO Building Society in 1960—by which time it had become one of the ten largest societies, the Westbourne Park in 1965 (leading to a change of name to Leek and Westbourne) and with the Eastern Counties (as Leek, Westbourne and Eastern Counties) in 1974. A further merger in 1975 with the Oldbury Britannia Building Society saw the change of name to Britannia.
Britannia also includes the engagements of the former Colne and District Permanent Benefit (1977), Westbury and District Permanent (1977), Glantawe Permanent, The (1978), Stoke-on-Trent Permanent (1980), Alfreton (1981), Wellington (Somerset) and District (1981), Denton (1981), Over Darwen (1981), Driffield (1982), Colne (1983), Welsh Economic (1984), Blackheath (1986) and Mornington (1991) building societies.
Bristol & West
The most recent acquisition was the deposit base and branch network of former building society Bristol & West (bringing with it approximately 700,000 customers) from Bank of Ireland in May 2005. This was the first major re-mutualisation in the United Kingdom (following the earlier demutualisation trend) and brought membership of the enlarged society to just under three million. Bank of Ireland retained ownership of the Bristol & West brand and all other parts of the business.
On 21 January 2009 Co-operative Financial Services (now the Co-operative Banking Group) and Britannia Building Society proposed a merger, first mooted in October 2008. On 29 April 2009 Britannia members voted overwhelmingly to become part of Co-operative Financial Services, the first such merger between different types of mutual under the so-called Butterfill Act (2007 cap. 26). CFS, which incorporates the Co-operative Bank and Co-operative Insurance Society, is itself a subsidiary of Co-operative Group Ltd, the largest consumer co-operative in the world. On 1 August 2009 Britannia Building Society was legally dissolved and Neville Richardson, its last Chief Executive, became Chief Executive of the enlarged CFS.
Coincidentally, the competitor and largest remaining Building Society, Nationwide, was itself formed in 1884 as the Co-operative Permanent Building Society to provide services to members of the co-operative movement.
The Britannia group of companies includes the following principal subsidiary undertakings:
- Britannia International Limited
- Britannia Treasury Services Ltd.
- Britsafe Insurance Services (Guernsey) Ltd.
- Platform Home Loans Ltd., subprime mortgage loans for the use of UK intermediaries (mortgage brokers) only
- Western Mortgage Services Ltd.
In 1999, Britannia was one of seven building societies unsuccessfully targeted by so-called carpetbagger Michael Hardern. To fight this threat to its mutual status, in 1998, the Society announced that new members would in future be required to assign any future windfall payments to the Britannia Building Society Foundation, a charity set up for this purpose.
On the merger with Co-operative Financial Services, members of the former Britannia Building Society became members of the Co-operative Group. The membership reward scheme was replaced with the co-operative membership scheme on 31 December 2009, when members began to earn dividend based on their account holding and borrowing with Britannia.
Britannia are the official sponsors of Stoke City F.C. who play in the Premier League and lend their name to the stadium. They also sponsor Ipswich Town F.C.'s west stand at Portman Road, the Britannia Stand.
Britannia also maintains trade union affinity partnerships with UNISON—the Public Service Union (successor to NALGO), the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW), the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and Unity (formerly CATU).
- Registered in England and Wales No. 990937. The Co-operative Bank is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, No. 121885
- Building Societies' Assets Building Societies Association, July 2008
- Building Societies Database KPMG Financial Services, August 2008
- Co-operative Bank to close 37 branches BBC News, 24 January 2013
- Britannia Building Society: Unions disappointed at name change BBC News, 25 January 2013
- "Branch updates". The Co-operative Bank. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
- Extract from Building Societies Yearbook 2007/8 (pp.163/4, 168, 185/6, 155 and 172) Building Societies Association (retrieved 10 January 2008). Golders Green Permanent originally changed name to Britannia in 1946 (p.158) and to Oldbury Britannia in 1955 (p.147/8)
- Bank of Ireland to sell its Bristol & West branch network for £150 million The Governor and Company of the Bank of Ireland, 24 May 2005
- Britannia and Co-operative Financial Services unveil plans for super-mutual Britannia Media Centre, 21 January 2009
- CFS and Britannia to create 'super mutual' Co-operative News, 21 January 2009
- Haurant, Sandra CFS joins Britannia to form 'super mutual' The Observer, 25 January 2009
- Britannia in Co-op merger talks BBC News, 12 October 2008 13:09 BST
- Hopkins, Kathryn Britannia and Co-op explore mutual tie-up The Guardian, 13 October 2008
- Britannia members back super-mutual merger with The Co-operative Financial Services Britannia Media Centre, 29 April 2009
- Britannia/Co-op merger date set BBC News, 29 April 2009 15:41 BST
- Sunderland, Ruth A mutual desire to be at the centre of banking The Observer, 5 April 2009
- Merger Creates Powerful Force in Financial Services Britannia Media Centre, 3 August 2009
- New-look CFS ready to take on the banks Co-operative News, 4 August 2009
- Mansbridge, Albert Brick upon Brick: 50 years of the Co-operative Permanent Building Society London: JM Dent & Sons, 1934
- Registered in the Isle of Man No. 50583. Licensed by the Manx Financial Supervision Commission to take deposits
- Registered in England and Wales No. 03416197
- Registered in Guernsey No. 30499. In Voluntary Liquidation La Gazette Officielle, JS980418/7/15
- Registered in England and Wales No. 02334606
- Registered in England and Wales No. 03191608
- Jones, Rupert Britannia puts carpetbagger to ballot test The Guardian, 19 January 1999
- Britannia faces £3m ballot bill BBC News, 22 April 1999 15:38 BST
- Britannia Building Society The Sentinel, 4 February 2009
- The Added Value of Membership UNISONPlus Membership Services (retrieved 15 August 2009)