February 26, 2020 @ 11:19 by Steven Hugill
A renewed commitment to the high street has helped increase customer numbers and drive record mortgage lending at a mutual.
Newcastle Building Society enjoyed a 12 per cent rise in clients during 2019, with its net core residential mortgage book standing at £575 million – more than three times higher than the £160 million recorded in 2018.
The business also saw operating profit rise 11 per cent to £16.3 million and increased branch savings balances by 23 per cent.
Furthermore, it created more than 150 jobs – with its fintech subsidiary Newcastle Strategic Solutions responsible for a substantial number of the posts.
The strong performance came amid an expansion and revitalisation of the mutual’s traditional high street branches, with new sites complementing a raft of refurbished existing locations.
Opening new branches in Bishop Auckland and Barnard Castle, County Durham, and community sites in Hawes, North Yorkshire, and Wooler, Northumberland, the business refurbished or relocated hubs in Morpeth, Ashington, Ponteland, Consett, Hexham, Berwick, South Shields and Stokesley, North Yorkshire.
Andrew Haigh, chief executive, said: “Like many regions in the UK, we’ve witnessed the withdrawal of banks and financial institutions from our high streets.
“We share concerns expressed across our communities as we witness closed premises, visible decline, and the reduction in the availability of local financial services,” added Andrew [pictured].
“But for a society committed to the region and with a strategy to be part of the solution, this is also an opportunity. In our view, something has to change. It’s time for new and innovative thinking.
“Our focus on continued innovation, our sustainable, long-term business model and our robust financial performance are critical factors in ensuring we can continue to make a genuine, positive difference for the customers and communities we serve across our region and beyond.”
He added 2019 saw its Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, Tyne & Wear and Northumberland pass the £2 million mark.
During the year, the fund provided £403,000 in community grants across the North East, Cumbria and North Yorkshire, supporting 86 different community projects, including the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Prince’s Trust.