Last week it was agreed that Northern Rock will be sold to Virgin Money. Following the announcement we decided to place some questions on our Harris Poll to understand how consumers felt about the acquisition. The interim findings suggest that Virgin could be on to a winner, but they will not have it all their own way.
Around a third think it will be a good thing for the sector, 30% say neither nor and a quarter are quite understandably unsure with the rest (circa 10%) saying that it will be a bad thing.
The reasons for the positive outlook are the levels of trust people have in Richard Branson and the Virgin brand, returning the company to the private sector, increasing competition and the public purse getting some money back.
The principle reason against the move is the perception that Virgin are buying Northern Rock on the cheap, and so cheating taxpayers out of their money.
In the next issue of Viewpoint (released mid December), we revisit perceptions of the industry as well as assessing the likely impact of the Virgin Money acquisition.
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Some of the thoughts of consumers are below:
“I trust Richard Branson, unlike the banking sector and the bankers he will do the right thing!”
“Virgin money has a sound capital and business base. It will ensure success and customers can trust a tried and tested brand. Virgin does not make financial errors like the individuals who ran Northern Rock before. They only make sound evidenced based decisions as true professionals not idiots.”
“Best to get Northern Rock back into private hands. Virgin is a good populist brand. It will be interesting to see whether they can put a shine back into Northern Rock’s business.”
“Tax payers have been done out of money and RB is just going to make it another cash cow for him – not going to be of any benefit the Northern Rock customers”
“It suggests that failed banks can be bought cheaply after being shored up with public money.”
“It was sold at a loss, taxpayers have lost money, is an example of taxpayers propping up failing and unscrupulous banks”