THE seemingly firm decision that the Clydesdale brand will disappear from the Scottish banking scene after more than 180 years is no less lamentable for the matter-of-fact way in which it was announced.

News of the impending demise of the Clydesdale brand came along with an announcement from the bank’s stock market-listed owner, CYBG, of a recommended £1.7 billion all-share offer for Virgin Money. After 180 years, you might have expected at least a bit of hand-wringing, or some other even quasi-emotional outpouring, from CYBG.

There is no doubting the Virgin brand is a powerful one, whether on the high street or in the air. For example Virgin Atlantic, for good reason, has earned a reputation over years and decades for providing a service which is something special, even in economy class.

And it is fair to say the brands of Clydesdale and its sister Yorkshire Bank could not be expected to travel particularly well outside their traditional heartlands. Clydesdale is strong in Scotland. Yorkshire Bank will have resonance in its home county. But Virgin would seem a much better brand for the enlarged banking group to adopt in other parts of the UK. However, notwithstanding the strength of the Virgin brand, it does beggar belief that CYBG, led by former Allied Irish Banks chief executive David Duffy, plans to scrap the Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank brands in the wake of the deal.

These are brands with great heritage. The brands of Clydesdale and other big banks have perhaps not been top of the pops in recent years in the wake of the global financial crisis, amid huge payouts for payment protection insurance mis-selling and radical cost-cutting which has seen large numbers of branch closures. Clydesdale has not had its problems to seek, with controversy over its sale of some complex business loans also weighing heavily. But this trouble could surely not be viewed, in the context of 180 years of history, as any reason for abandoning a brand with such great heritage as Clydesdale.

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While the decision beggars belief, maybe we should not be so surprised given Mr Duffy is a relative newcomer to the Scottish banking market. And given that the centre of gravity for decision-making, for the Scottish banking sector as a whole, appears to have shifted significantly to London in recent years.

Mr Duffy also appears to have been all about looking forward, and seems very enthusiastic indeed about technology and what it might mean for the future of banking. Amid his digital banking focus, we have seen CYBG open “Studio B” in London, amid much fanfare. Studio B is described as a “creative, interactive space” and “a place where innovations in how we use, save and manage money will come to life”.

To be fair to Mr Duffy, the Virgin Money acquisition goes a long way to addressing a big strategic problem for Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks, which has prevailed for decades.

Clydesdale and Yorkshire, by dint of history, are major players in their heartlands but have been unable to build a powerful UK-wide presence.

There were various attempts, under the ownership of National Australia Bank, at combining with other players in the sector.

And, in the early years of the millennium, there was an organic expansion drive into the south of England with financial solutions centres under the Clydesdale brand targeting well-heeled customers and lending to businesses. Clydesdale ultimately retreated significantly from this southern drive, closing many financial solutions centres, as it was hit by bad debts on the commercial property loan book it had accumulated.

The acquisition of Virgin Money makes strategic sense. It will provide CYBG with a UK-wide presence, and we must not forget that bricks and mortar are still crucial in the banking world even in this digital age.

Over the decades, NAB seemed at times ambivalent about whether it built its presence in the UK by using Clydesdale Bank as an acquisition vehicle or exited by selling the operations to another player.

It appeared that, to all intents and purposes, Clydesdale Bank was for sale to a greater or lesser extent for a very long time before NAB eventually floated its UK operations on the stock market as CYBG in early 2016.

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One big problem for Glasgow-based Clydesdale Bank was that NAB seemed happy to let the operation roll along for decades before the flotation, without anything particularly ambitious in the way of investment for growth.

Major strategy decisions relating to Clydesdale were often taken from an Australian perspective. And, while there might be some similarities between the UK and Australian banking and mortgage markets, there are also big differences. Clydesdale also appeared to be hampered during its ownership by NAB in terms of a lack of autonomy when it came to some of its day-to-day operations, for example on big lending decisions.

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NAB, for its part, was at times far from complimentary about its UK banking operations. Former NAB executive director of finance Mark Joiner said in 2011 that the UK economy was “expected to be on its knees for 10 years or so”. To be fair to him, this comment looks to have been prescient, given the current and recent state of the UK economy.

The success or otherwise of CYBG’s Virgin Money deal will depend in large part on how well integration is executed. Sadly, the deal involves huge job losses, around 1,500. CYBG chief operating officer Debbie Crosbie signalled a hope that much of this job-cutting would occur through “natural attrition”.

Trade union Unite made it plain when the CYBG and Virgin Money deal was announced on Monday that it would be seeking assurances on the jobs front. Hopefully, it will get these assurances and involuntary job losses can be minimised, or much better still avoided altogether, given the amount of uncertainty and pain ordinary employees in UK banking, blameless for the global financial crisis, have had to endure over the last decade.

Mr Duffy is no doubt looking to the future with the Virgin Money deal. And it should go a long way to turning the operation he heads into a bank with truly UK-wide coverage.

However, while he appears very keen on modernisation, he must not lose sight of the past. In this context, he might want to think again about abandoning a Clydesdale brand with 180 years of heritage which, for all the travails of recent years, has a very loyal following among its customers.