Swedish bank reveals fifth head office to open in region

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HANDELSBANKEN is to open its fifth UK regional head office in Leeds to support the bank’s 32 branches across ​​Yorkshire and the North East.

​The Swedish bank, which focuses on customer service and retail banking, said the expansion of its network across Yorkshire means it needs to set up a dedicated head office in the region.

The Leeds head office will be run by former Hull branch manager Simon Lodge, who will be returning to his roots after five years’ heading up Handelsbanken’s regional operations in London and the South East. The UK is the fastest-growing of Handelsbanken’s markets​ and​ its local branch network ha​s almost trebled in size since 2008.

The new regional head office in Leeds follows the opening of the London office to cover the capital and the South East, Manchester to cover the North West, Birmingham to cater for the Midlands and Bristol to cover the South West.

The new Yorkshire & North East UK Regional Bank will open in January.

​Mr Lodge said: ​“Having grown up and spent most of my banking career in the region, I understand why those looking for a local banking relationship find our experienced, empowered branch teams so refreshing.

“Since I joined Handelsbanken a decade ago, serving first Leeds then Hull branch customers, we have demonstrated our commitment to strong and lasting customer relationships all over the region.

“The warmth of response from customers and local professionals, coupled with the economic potential we see in communities across the region, has encouraged us to set up our fifth UK regional bank, with its head office to be located in Leeds.”

Anders Bouvin, Handelsbanken’s UK ​c​hief ​e​xecutive, ​added: “Our continuing growth in the UK comes down to a clear, long-term focus on customer satisfaction, prudent banking and cost efficiency. ​We will continue to invest in traditional, local banking to meet the demand we see from businesses and individuals across Britain.”

Handelsbanken said it is too early to say how many branches it will open in Yorkshire.

A spokesman said: “We grow our branch network purely in response to customer demand and when we believe we have found the best banker in town to run a branch.”

The bank opened 28 branches last year and has opened seven so far this year.

“Opening our fifth region in Yorkshire and the North East serves to demonstrate our long-term commitment to the region and the opportunity we perceive the region to represent,” said the spokesman.

“We see strong and growing demand for local relationship banking right across the UK. Individuals and businesses clearly have a desire for branch-based banking, where they can meet with local staff who are decision makers and whose behaviour is not distorted by sales or business volume targets, nor bonuses.”

Handelsbanken’s second quarter results showed that total UK lending increased by 12 per cent. Corporate lending rose seven per cent and household lending rose 26 per cent.