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Troubled Co-op Bank sheds 25,000 customers

Sky News logo Sky News 10/08/2017
The Co-op Bank's roots can be traced back to 1872 © Getty The Co-op Bank's roots can be traced back to 1872

Co-operative Bank narrowed its losses in the first six months of this year, but continued to lose customers amid uncertainty surrounding its future.

The troubled lender reported a first half loss of £135m, down from £177m, helped by lower costs, though its key profit margin measure shrank compared to the same period last year thanks to lower interest rates.

But it still shed 25,000 current account customers and saw £400m worth of instant access savings withdrawn thanks to "retail customer reaction to uncertainty".

The bank had put itself up for sale earlier this year but was ultimately rescued in a £700m deal involving existing US investors last month.

The first half also saw the group's full-time workforce cut by nearly 900 to just over 3,300 and chief executive Liam Coleman warned the bank would cut its headcount further as it looks to trim costs.

This will mainly come from temporary staff and contractors as well as through employees who leave not being replaced.

Mr Coleman said the lender had been on a "challenging journey".

But he said it had proven "resilient", stating that while there is "more hard work ahead… this is a great bank and we are positive about the future".

"The vast majority of customers have remained very loyal as we have progressed the sale and capital raise process and I am extremely grateful for their ongoing support," he said.

The rescue deal agreed last month allows the Co-op Bank to continue as a stand-alone business and gives company bosses time to further their cost-cutting efforts.

But the agreement required the wider Co-op Group to reduce its stake in the bank from 20% to 1%, and also saw the bank's pension scheme separated from the rest of the Group, leaving the lender solely responsible for its employees' retirement savings.

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