As predicted, the great brand cull at Lloyds Banking Group has begun in earnest with the closure of all 164 branches of Cheltenham & Gloucester. Lloyds claims the C&G brand itself is too valuable to sacrifice: the reality, now it is shorn of a high street presence, is that the brand is moribund. C&G has been dispatched into the hands of mortgage brokers, where it will totter on in a zombie twilight zone until Lloyds stealthily administers euthanasia. Lloyds is repeating the surgical treatment meted out to Clerical Medical a couple of months ago, only this time on a much more important brand.
Lloyds has no choice but to winnow its brands. It is overextended thanks to its merger with HBOS; under massive financial pressure – as much due to the recession as bad debts emanating from HBOS; and will soon find itself having to row back on market share, once the competition authorities have their say. The question is, which household name will be chopped next?
For more on the great brand cull laying waste the auto and financial services sectors, see my column in this week’s magazine.