Leeds Building Society reports record profits

Chief executive Peter Hill.
Chief executive Peter Hill.
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Leeds Building Society has reported record profits as the mutual helped thousands of more people save and borrow.

Leeds Building Society reported record pre-tax profit of £120.9m in 2017 and said that membership numbers were at the highest in its history.

Peter Hill, chief executive of Leeds Building Society, said: “Savings and mortgage balances, membership numbers and assets are all at record levels as we continue to grow sustainably and invest for the long-term benefit of the society.”

Mr Hill believes that the annual results are evidence of the scoiety delivering on its goals.

The mutual said it helped 71,000 more people save for their future and helped over 50,000 more people have the home they want, including 13,000 first time buyers.

Savings balances increased by a record £1.9bn and now exceed £13bn, Leeds Building Society said.

Net mortgage lending stood at £1.8bn, with total mortgage balances reaching £15.2bn up from £13.4bn in 2016, an increase of 13 per cent.

Mr Hill said: “As a member-owned building society, we work hard to balance the needs of savers and borrowers.

“In October last year we bucked the trend by increasing the current minimum rate paid to all our savings members to 0.50 per cent, when many of our competitors were cutting rates.

“We became the first high street financial services provider to pay this minimum rate across both ISAs and non-ISAs, a step we took before the Bank of England increased Base Rate for the first time in more than a decade.”

Just like banks, building societies have been cutting the number of branches they have as customers increasingly switch to online for products and services.

Leeds Building Society said it had to take the “difficult” decision to close a small number of branches which had decline to an unsustainable level.

Mr Hill said: “Branches continue to play an important role in attracting retail savings we need to grow mortgage lending and our cost-effective refurbishment of all branches created a more modern environment for members and reduced our impact on the environment through energy-efficient technology.

“This, combined with purchasing renewable electricity, was instrumental in the Society achieving the Carbon Trust Standard for our ongoing commitment to reducing our carbon footprint.

“We reviewed our network to ensure branches are in areas where there’s sufficient demand, relocating our London branch and successfully opening a new branch in Bournemouth. We’ll continue to consider other new sites where appropriate.

“However, in line with other banks and building societies, our members are increasingly using multiple branches, telephone and the internet to access our products and services.

“Use of some locations had declined to an unsustainable level and we took the difficult decision to close a small number of branches.”

The mutual said it would continue to monitor the implications of Brexit.