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Grace Under Pressure


It already looks like a week of pressure for many, not just our beleaguered Prime Minister, who although he has survived the latest coupe is hanging by a thread after the Euro Elections. The issue is that when a Government is in this kind of position, not much of any use apart from fire fighting tends to get done.

The PM is not the only one struggling to survive in this post-credit crunch cauldron. There are many in business who are working all hours to keep things going and see out the recession. In the mortgage and banking industry the news today will no doubt focus on another banking giant following in the footsteps of Santander and rationalising its brands in order to compete in the new world.

Rumours have already broken that Lloyds is set to announce the closure of all C&G branches, which would represent another change in our high street landscape. Whilst this is an undoubted blow to competition and ultimately consumer choice, it is a sadly inevitable consequence of market conditions.

The harsh reality is that in a market that has shrunk almost beyond recognition, the Lloyds Banking Group no longer needs half a dozen different brands competing on the same high street, although hopefully it may be the case that the C&G brand, which is a strong one, will survive in some guise.

Whilst this is nothing more than cold comfort to those who will sadly lose their jobs I know that this decision would have been thought about carefully and professionally. To compete effectively and be able to move forward, Lloyds, like every other business, has to make difficult decisions.

Looking back this will undoubtedly be one of the worst consequences of the credit crunch and the recession, not just the loss of respected high street names, but the fact that consumer choice will be affected for many years.

Our thoughts are with those on the front line who will bear the brunt of these changes, good, hard-working people amongst whom we have many friends. Perhaps we should also, however, spare a thought for the decision makers who themselves have been forced into this position by the market environment, and arguably by the actions of their predecessors.

There will be many more difficult decisions to come, but there are rays of sunshine struggling to break through the clouds. In the meantime it is up to all of us to show grace under pressure.

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