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Santander could replace Barclays on Boris bikes

5 Jun 2014 cycle hire London
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London’s hire bikes could be repainted red if the Santander bank wins the sponsorship contract, replacing Barclays.

Barclays’ contract expires in summer 2015. The company has indicated it won’t seek to renew the contract, amid disquiet at its arrangement with Transport for London: mayor Boris Johnson claimed that the bank would be paying £50m for the rights through to 2018, but in fact only £25m has been handed over.

Now, according to the Evening Standard, Santander is in talks with Transport for London about becoming the new sponsors. At a fundraising ball this week, Johnson reportedly told guests “even today we are talking to Santander”. The Spanish bank bought the businesses of Abbey National, Bradford & Bingley, and Alliance & Leicester to become a High Street name.

If Santander wins the rights, it would be paying a minimum of £5.5m per year for seven years. In return, the scheme would be named ‘Santander Cycle Hire’; all bikes and docking stations would be rebranded with the company’s colours; and maintenance vehicles, keys and staff uniforms would be updated. TfL says this is the equivalent of £15m advertising every year.

In a brochure to entice potential sponsors, TfL makes several eye-catching claims. Among them are:

“The only brand present in some of the cleanest, greenest and most beautiful areas of London could be yours. Be present in places that no other brand can reach (conservation areas, listed buildings).
“Members & users are a premium audience who are hard to reach, have a high disposable income, passionate and participate as opposed to spectate.
“Be central to a step change in cycling in London.”

Inviting companies to tender for the sponsorship, Boris Johnson said:

“This is a unique opportunity for a commercial partner to put their stamp on a mode of London transport that is now as recognisable as our iconic black cabs and red buses. We are looking for a sponsor whose aspiration matches our own, one with the passion to take the scheme to the next level and get even more people pedalling.”

The deadline for tender submissions is 29th September.

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