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It takes decades for many of the UK’s clearing banks to package products specifically aimed at businesses, large and small.  Dedicated face to face staff are first made available to PERSONAL CUSTOMERS by Barclays from the late 1970s, but it takes longer for a business or corporate equivalent to emerge. In the case of banks who, like Martins and Barclays operate a decentralised service - with district or local head offices – the trends in local business are picked up and dealt with according to local need. Decentralisation is a source of pride for decades, as top down decisions are by-passed by a team of people who know the local area and its business needs.  Until banking becomes more and more streamlined, and the idea takes hold that wherever you are as a customer you should be treated in the same way as everyone else, there is no definable pattern of service or products available to business customers.  We must look to Martins’ own business advertising for clues, where we find that foreign trade is a pre-occupation for many years…

Images © 1939 Barclays (Left)

and 1945 © Martins Bank Archive (Above and below)

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The Second World War is over, and Martins raises patriotic good cheer with these fabulous 1945 newspaper advertisements. Western Approaches shows the Mersey filled with boats busy importing or exporting the goods that will make Britain great again. Encouranging enterprise with these neat little adverts, Martins reminds everyone that Britain might be in bits, but it is still very much “open for business”. From here on, the importance of exporting goods will never be far from the minds of governments, businesses and the banking sector.  Whether through adverts like these, initiatives such as National Productivity year, or the “I’m Backing Britain” campaign of the late 1960s, the need to trade with the World is always being pushed, and pushed hard.  “The World is your Market” was another of Martins Bank’s indispensible guides for business that was available to customers and non-customers for a number of years. See also AGRICULTURAL BANKING.

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1960 The World is your Market FC - ARA BGA

1963 Exporting is Simpler With Martins ad from Punch PA.jpg

The World is Your Market becomes

an important annual publication

The 1960s brings a new urgency to exporting

with “National Productivity Year” (1963)

Images © Martins Bank Archive Collection

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National Productivity Year and beyond…

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1963 is an exciting year for Martins Bank and its Staff. Not only does the Bank celebrate 400 years of banking activity in Lombard Street, it opens a number of new branches, and continues to demonstrate its commitment to the automation of Branch accounting.   The British Economy is flagging a little in 1963, and the Government conjures up “National Productivity Year”, an initiative that sounds as if it would be more at home in Soviet Russia than in a major Western capitalist economy.  We should remember that at this time there are many more nationalised concerns than we have in the twenty-first century, electricity, gas, car production, telephone services and rail travel are all “provided” by the British Government. National Productivity Year is therefore something of a novelty, as entrepreneurs big and small are encouraged to establish trade at home and abroad and thereby boost Britain’s financial standing.  Martins Bank seizes the opportunity to sell its services to business, and this is nowhere more apparent than in its newspaper advertising.  The Bank never quite shakes off the preferred image it has for someone setting up a business – a MAN (of course) in a suit and tie (naturally), and sporting a bowler hat (this was a time when most men wore hats in the street to define their social status).  Martins policy is not intentionally misogynistic, and former Member of Parliament, the lateTeresa Gorman (30/09/1931-28/08/2015) recalls in her autobiography that it was a 1966 Martins advertisement (below) depicting a man wearing a bowler hat and climbing a ladder, that attracted her to the Bank, where she successfully raised the funds she needed to set up her own business.

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1965 onwards: Starting or building a business

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Images © Martins Bank Archive Collection

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The introduction by the eleven clearing Banks of the Credit Clearing system in 1962 paves the way for smoother business transactions, and the ability to pay employees directly into their own Bank Accounts. Martins Bank’s Advertising is based around the success of its Information Department, whose perhaps unrivalled collective knowledge produces literature that is of practical help to those already in business and those who are just starting up.  The bank can also take pride in its decentralised structure, with local head offices around the country able to make important decisions without keeping the customer waiting.

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Image © Martins Bank Archive Collection

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Image © Martins Bank Archive Collection

 

 

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collection

 

Image © Barclays Ref 0025/0658/0005

 

As the swinging sixties progress, EXPORTS are key both to the success of business AND banking. The World Is Your Market, becomes another success story for Martins Bank’s Information Department. It is an ambitious publication, which sets out to provide every possible detail to help any British Business owner understand the potential of overseas trade, and the ease with which it can be conducted with Martins at your side.  So profound is it all, that in the advertisement above, the businessman seems perhaps to have removed his glasses for a moment of deep reflection!!!  The front cover of The World is Your Market even features in the pages of Martins Bank’s Annual Report and Accounts for 1960, which shows the commitment the Bank has made to helping businesses succeed at home and abroad. Backed by the expertise of Martins Overseas Branches at Liverpool Manchester and London, The World is Your Market continues to be a successful publication right up to the merger with Barclays… 

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So much for small to medium business – Martins Bank also looks after the banking needs of some VERY large business concerns, and we look in detail at this, and at how it leads to the merger with Barclays in our feature CORPORATE BANKING. We also examine Barclays’ own proposals for a merger with Martins AND Lloyds Bank, and also at what might have been if Martins Bank had survived into the twenty-first Century.

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