Britannia (former building society)

For other uses, see Britannia (disambiguation).
The Co-operative Bank Plc
trading as Britannia
Trading name
Industry Financial Services
Founded 1856
Headquarters Staffordshire Moorlands, United Kingdom
Key people
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

Britannia is a former mutual building society which merged with The Co-operative Banking Group in 2009. It is now a trading name of the Co-operative Bank in the United Kingdom.[1] 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.[2][3] 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,[4][5] and began rebranding branches under the Co-operative Bank name.[6] 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.


A branch of the former Britannia Building Society in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.

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.[7]

Britannia also includes the engagements of the former Colne and District Permanent Benefit (1977), Westbury and District Permanent (1977), The Glantawe Permanent (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

A branch of the Britannia in Gloucester displaying Co-operative branding.

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.[8]

Co-operative Group

On 21 January 2009 Co-operative Financial Services (later The Co-operative Banking Group) and Britannia Building Society proposed a merger,[9][10][11] first mooted in October 2008.[12][13] 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.[14][15][16] CFS, which incorporated the Co-operative Bank and Co-operative Insurance Society, was itself a subsidiary of the Co-operative Group, 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.[17][18]

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.[19]


Earlier logo used until 1995

The Britannia group of companies includes the following principal subsidiary undertakings:

A former member of the Building Societies Association and the Council of Mortgage Lenders, Britannia also subscribes to the Financial Ombudsman Service.


In 1999, Britannia was one of seven building societies unsuccessfully targeted by so-called carpetbagger Michael Hardern.[25][26] 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.[27]

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 were 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 which has been re-named the Co-Operative 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).[28]

See also


  1. Registered in England and Wales No. 990937. The Co-operative Bank is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, No. 121885
  2. Building Societies' Assets Archived March 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. Building Societies Association, July 2008
  3. Building Societies Database Archived March 4, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. KPMG Financial Services, August 2008
  4. Co-operative Bank to close 37 branches BBC News, 24 January 2013
  5. Britannia Building Society: Unions disappointed at name change BBC News, 25 January 2013
  6. "Branch updates". The Co-operative Bank. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  7. Extract from Building Societies Yearbook 2007/8 Archived November 9, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. (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)
  8. Bank of Ireland to sell its Bristol & West branch network for £150 million Archived September 16, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. The Governor and Company of the Bank of Ireland, 24 May 2005
  9. Britannia and Co-operative Financial Services unveil plans for super-mutual Britannia Media Centre, 21 January 2009
  10. CFS and Britannia to create 'super mutual' Archived January 26, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. Co-operative News, 21 January 2009
  11. Haurant, Sandra CFS joins Britannia to form 'super mutual' The Observer, 25 January 2009
  12. "Britannia in Co-op merger talks". BBC News. 12 October 2008. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  13. Hopkins, Kathryn Britannia and Co-op explore mutual tie-up The Guardian, 13 October 2008
  14. Britannia members back super-mutual merger with The Co-operative Financial Services Britannia Media Centre, 29 April 2009
  15. "Britannia/Co-op merger date set". BBC News. 29 April 2009. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  16. Sunderland, Ruth A mutual desire to be at the centre of banking The Observer, 5 April 2009
  17. Merger Creates Powerful Force in Financial Services Britannia Media Centre, 3 August 2009
  18. New-look CFS ready to take on the banks Archived July 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Co-operative News, 4 August 2009
  19. Mansbridge, Albert Brick upon Brick: 50 years of the Co-operative Permanent Building Society London: JM Dent & Sons, 1934
  20. Registered in the Isle of Man No. 50583. Licensed by the Manx Financial Supervision Commission to take deposits
  21. Registered in England and Wales No. 03416197
  22. Registered in Guernsey No. 30499. In Voluntary Liquidation La Gazette Officielle, JS980418/7/15
  23. Registered in England and Wales No. 02334606
  24. Registered in England and Wales No. 03191608
  25. Jones, Rupert Britannia puts carpetbagger to ballot test The Guardian, 19 January 1999
  26. "Britannia faces £3m ballot bill". BBC News. 22 April 1999. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  27. Britannia Building Society Archived July 24, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. The Sentinel, 4 February 2009
  28. The Added Value of Membership Archived December 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. UNISONPlus Membership Services (retrieved 15 August 2009)

External links

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