Lloyds closes C&G outlets

LLOYDS Banking Group is to withdraw its Cheltenham &amp; Gloucester (C&amp;G) brand from the high street in a move that will see the bank wield the axe over up to 1,660 staff as it streamlines in the wake of its takeover of HBOS.<br /><br />The bank said it would close all 164 branches of C&amp;G within five months, which would result in the loss of around 1,000 employees, while there will also be 365 cuts in personal loans and more in mortgages, retail and personal finance.<br /><br />Lloyds said in a statement that it would continue to operate a mortgage business while &ldquo;removing some of the overlap&rdquo; in its portfolio of home loan operations.<br /><br />The bank said compulsory redundancies would be a &ldquo;last resort&rdquo;, but Britain&rsquo;s largest union Unite reacted angrily to the cuts nonetheless.<br /><br />Joint general secretary Derek Simpson said: &ldquo;UK taxpayers have not poured billions of pounds into this organisation just to see it sack thousands of hardworking people.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;Front line staff in banks across the country are blameless for the mistakes of management which have brought the important finance industry to the point of collapse.&rdquo;<br /><br />Lloyds has laid off around 3,000 staff since it finalised the takeover of HBOS and analysts believe that the final figure of job cuts relating to the deal could be as much as 25,000.<br /><br />Alex Potter, of Collins Stewart, suggested that the closure of C&amp;G as a high street brand could be aimed at appeasing European regulators, after the bank warned last month that it might be forced to make disposals to secure European Commission approval for receiving state aid.<br /><br />Helen Weir, group executive director of retail banking, said: &ldquo;It is always difficult to make decisions about our business that affect our colleagues.&rdquo;