Co-op Bank 'in control of the negativity' with contrite results announcement

Two City PR figures have praised the contrition and "refreshing honesty" with which the Co-operative Bank announced its disappointing interim results yesterday.

Interim results: Bleak outlook for Co-op Bank, but PRs say it has communicated well
Interim results: Bleak outlook for Co-op Bank, but PRs say it has communicated well

The bank – which unveiled a new ethical policy in an attempt to rebuild its reputation after a string of scandals – announced a loss before tax for the first six months of 2015 of £204.2m, almost three times its £77m deficit in the first half of 2014. It also says the bank will not be profitable in 2015 or 2016.

In his statement at the start of the bank’s report, chair Dennis Holt warned that that the work to turn around the organisation was "not an easy task" and that he was "very aware of the considerable challenges our colleagues have faced", while chief executive Niall Booker also thanked staff for their "dedication and perseverance".

Pat Southwell, director of strategy and head of crisis comms at Berkeley PR, described the report as contrite, saying it "openly apologises for its past failings".

He said: "While it’s made progress, the bank pulls no punches about its situation. It’s taken the bad news by the scruff of the neck and thrown it out to the press. As a result, it remains in control of the negativity – leaving little for potential detractors to say other than agreeing with its narrative.

"The statements set the right tone. The result is that the bank is on the front foot and the only way is up. That’s a strong position to be in."

Gareth David, executive director of comms firm Broadgate Mainland, said the statements contained a "careful mixture of contriteness for the errors of the past and confidence that the right steps are being taken".

David noted a repetition of one key word by both Booker and Holt. He said: "‘Progress’ seems to be the leitmotif of both men’s statements – it is a word used three times by the chairman in his relatively short statement and appears no less than eight times in the words of Booker."

"There is a refreshing honesty in owning up to the failings of past management and acknowledging that the journey to recovery will be a long one," he said.

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