The boss of the Co-operative Group insisted ‘we know how to run a bank’ today after speculation its £1.4 billion bid to buy 632 Lloyds branches - including several in South Yorkshire - was in jeopardy.
The supermarkets-to-funerals business has been named preferred bidder for the branches, but regulators are reportedly concerned by a lack of banking expertise on its board.
Peter Marks, Co-op chief executive, admitted there was no guarantee the deal would go through, but said the group’s ability to run a bank should not be called into question.
He said: “We have run a successful, ethical, socially-responsible bank for more than 100 years.
“During the credit crunch, when a lot of banks were collapsing, we sailed serenely through, stronger than ever. We know how to run a bank.”
Mr Marks’s comments come as the wider group revealed a 5.8 per cent fall in pre-tax profits to £373 million in 2011, with its 2,800-store grocery arm suffering a 2.1 per cent fall in like-for-like sales.
Lloyds TSB branches in Sheffield involved in the sale include Meadowhall shopping centre, Abbey Lane in Woodseats and Main Road in Darnall. Other branches involved include
High Street in Doncaster, Market Hill in Barnsley and Market Place in Chesterfield, as well as Cheltenham & Gloucester branches in Frenchgate in Doncaster and Charles Street in Sheffield city centre.