Tesco Bank has confirmed it will redomicile in England in the event of Scotland gaining independence, following commitments from four other major banks this morning.
The supermarket's personal finance arm issued a statement this afternoon saying that it had been “developing contingency plans.... regardless of the outcome of the referendum” throughout the campaign.
The statement added:
In the event of a 'Yes' vote it is expected that the transition to independence will take 18 months. To ensure we provide long term continuity for customers after the transition is complete, our contingency plans include the creation of a new registered company, domiciled in England.
While the creation of a new company would change the address of our registered headquarters, we do not expect there would be any immediate impact on colleagues at our existing centres.
It also noted:
Scotland is an important market to us and will continue to be an important market regardless of the outcome of the referendum.
The timing of Tesco's announcement – just hours after Royal Bank of Scotland confirmed it would do the same, alongside Lloyds, Standard Life and the Clydesdale Bank – will be helpful to the Better Together campaign, which has been losing ground in the last few weeks.
While many businesses claim to be neutral as to whether Scots should break away from the rest of the United Kingdom, there has been an increase in commentary that could dissuade voters from taking the leap.
John Lewis Partnership chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield this morning said independence could lead to retailers increasing their costs north of the border, noting that the expenses of trading in Scotland, which are higher than in England, might no longer be absorbed.