HSBC is to accelerate the renaming of its UK branch network, it has emerged just hours after Europe’s biggest lender committed to retaining its headquarters in London.
Sky News understands that HSBC plans to open the first ‘HSBC UK’-branded branch in Birmingham New Street – close to the new headquarters of its retail banking operations – by the end of this month.
The move is said to be subject to planning permission to alter the signage on the branch, and will come substantially in advance of the requirement to ring-fence its high street arm by 2019.
The second rebranded branch will be in Solihull in the West Midlands, with the remainder of HSBC’s 950-strong network revamped by the end of 2017.
On Sunday, HSBC said it had decided to remain domiciled in the UK following a ten-month review that also saw its former home of Hong Kong, Paris and Toronto among the alternatives considered.
The decision to rebrand its ring-fenced bank as HSBC UK was announced last autumn, after the bank’s board had considered reviving the Midland name – the acquisition of which in 1992 triggered the relocation of HSBC’s group headquarters from Hong Kong to London.
HSBC said in September that research involving staff and customers had led to the conclusion that it should retain the HSBC name.
“It soon became obvious that everyone preferred a name that maintains a strong connection to HSBC, and a clear commitment to the UK,” a memo from chief executive Stuart Gulliver said last autumn.
“That’s why we have decided to call the ring-fenced bank HSBC UK, with ‘UK’ distinguishing it from our non-ring-fenced banking operations.
“Our customers told us the HSBC brand represents strength and connectivity; they said our global network can help them realise both their domestic and international ambitions and that’s what differentiates us from other UK banks.”
The non-ring-fenced bank owned by HSBC, which will comprise other UK-based activities such as its wholesale and global banking and markets business, will continue to be branded under the existing HSBC name.
Mr Gulliver told Sky News this week that a British exit from the European Union could lead him to move 1,000 of its global banking and marketsstaff from London to Paris, if the UK was unable to access Europe’s single market for financial services.