As it may sound, the Alliance and Leicester Bank were born from an amalgamation of two building societies, the Alliance and the Leicester. When these two long-running societies decided to pool their operations in 1985, it seemed inevitable that they would move into the world of banking. This they did in 1997, with the floating of the bank group on the London Stock Exchange. The bank’s activities are controlled from its headquarters near the midlands town of Leicester, with several administration centers dotted around the UK.
These former building societies’ entry into the world of banking was cemented in 1990 when they acquired the Girobank group from the Post Office. Girobank had established itself with a powerful niche as a major provider of cash handling services for Government agencies, particularly the Post Office, as well as some leading UK public companies.
With the success of this operation under their belts, the Alliance and Leicester decided to go public in 1997. Such was the success of their flotation that the society’s members, who had become their shareholders, were all awarded a considerable landfall payment.
In 2008, the company’s board decided that it would be in the best interests of its shareholders to accept the offer of a friendly takeover from the Spanish banking giants Banco Santander. Santander had recently acquired another former UK building society, Abbey National, and the feeling within banking circles was that the company would merge both these high street banking groups into a single entity to cut costs. At the time of writing, this is yet to take place.
Currently, the Alliance and Leicester Bank operate twenty customer centers through the North and Midlands of England, with the most recent being opened in Nottingham. The company has made a very strong niche for itself both in the private and commercial banking sectors, largely as a result of its prize-winning efficiency and innovative thinking.
One of their most popular ideas, geared towards the public, was its “moneyback” financial services, one of the first internet-only personal loan operations to be launched in the UK. Another innovative banking service launched over the years by the Alliance and Leicester Bank was a current account scheme that rewarded its customers who carried out their financial transactions through the internet or telephone. Known as the Premier Plus current account, it offered consumers one of the most interest rates on the market for a cross-section of the market who are internet orientated and choose to fund and manage their accounts directly.
Another area of banking where the Alliance and Leicester have led the way is in the issue and use of credit cards, with the new bank being among the first to issue cards and offer a “Cashback” service on them.
In the short time that they have been trading, Alliance and Leicester have shown themselves as being capable of not only surviving but constantly moving forward.