News that the Co-operative Bank is preferred bidder for the 632 branches Lloyds Banking Group is being forced to sell has been greeted warmly by consumer groups.
Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith says: “If people are to get a better deal from their banks we need greater competition, which means an effective challenger on the high street. People tell us they like the Co-operative bank and we think they can teach the other banks a lesson in good customer service.”
Sarah Brooks, director of financial services at Consumer Focus, adds: “The sale should be good news for consumers – we need a thriving retail banking sector offering a mix of banks, mutuals, credit unions and Post Office banking. But for big to be beautiful for customers, the Co-op must provide good value products and great customer service. This is an opportunity to inject some much needed innovation and competition into our retail banking sector.”
So how does the Co-op currently stack up against other financial services providers? On almost all counts it beats Lloyds TSB, but has a bit of work to do to catch up with the rates offered by other high street names and those in the best-buy tables.