Britannia Building Society can add winning the Financial Services category of the 2006 Service Excellence Awards to its 150th anniversary celebrations this year. Founded in 1856 as the Leek and Moorlands Permanent Benefits Society, Britannia is now Britain's second-largest remaining building society after Nationwide. But it's ambition is to gain recognition as 'Britain's best mutual'.
Despite continuing sector consolidation, demutualisation is 'not up for debate', according to business leader Philip Garlick. Indeed, the society has just completed the first remutualisation of a Plc banking business, having bought the savings business and 66-strong branch network of Bristol & West last autumn.
'The merchant bankers said we couldn't do it,' says Garlick, explaining that Britannia delivered full system integration within nine months, while receiving just 60 complaints from the transfer and closure of 26,000 Bristol & West current accounts. The society pledged that no B&W saver would be worse off as a result of the transfer, and overall these deposit-holders are said to be in line for £7m more interest this year by vitue of being with Britannia.