Yorkshire enjoys a 50pc leap in new lending

Yorkshire Building Society chief executive Chris Pilling
Yorkshire Building Society chief executive Chris Pilling
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Yorkshire Building Society celebrated its 150th year with a 50 per cent leap in new lending after issuing nearly a fifth of UK net mortgage lending in 2014.

The mutual, which is Britain’s second biggest building society, said net lending reached 19 per cent of the market as banks scaled back.

The number of UK mortgage approvals has fallen sharply this year since tighter lending criteria was introduced under the Mortgage Market review (MMR) to prevent banks from recklessly lending money to people who couldn’t keep up their repayments, a major cause of the 2008 financial crisis.

Yorkshire’s prudent model and financial fire-power means it is punching above its weight.

It funded 94 per cent of mortgages in the first half of 2014 from its savings balances and reserves.

Yorkshire’s chief executive Chris Pilling said: “The banks are using tighter lending criteria than we are. The MMR has had a real impact on banks and most of them are still on the back foot.”

Yorkshire has created 200 new head office and operational jobs in Yorkshire so far this year as it invests for the future.

At a time when many Yorkshire companies are slashing head office jobs in order to save costs, the society said it needs the extra manpower to support its future growth.

“We are recruiting new people and fresh talent,” said Mr Pilling.

“It’s good news for Leeds, Bradford and Yorkshire in general.”

Some 2,600 of its 4,500 staff are based in Yorkshire and this is expected to increase further as it opens new branches.

Following a successful trial of a new concept branch in Harrogate, the society is keen to roll it out throughout its 231 branches.

Nearly 90 branches will be refurbished by the end of this year.

The new design provides more space in the main body of the branch and more privacy in the meeting areas.

“Customers said they’d rather be behind a glass door than out in the open when they’re discussing matters that are important to them,” said Mr Pilling.

“It hasn’t been cheap to do, but that’s what customers told us they wanted.”

Yorkshire’s core operating profit rose 30 per cent to £107.5m in the six months to June 30 and pre-tax profit leapt 71 per cent to £117.1m.

Gross new lending rose 50 per cent to £3.7bn.

​The society completed more than 16,000 mortgages and opened more than 100,000 savings accounts at a time of historically low interest rates.

Mr Pilling said the society’s sponsorship of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France earlier this month significantly raised the group’s profile, with millions lining the route and billions watching on television.

​“​Being involved in something as big as the Grand Depart reflects the ambition and size of the business we have become,” he said.

“It’s been fantastic. It’s been extraordinary for the region and as a sponsor we really benefited.

“We saw a double digit uplift in website visits after the Grand Depart.”

A competition offering tickets for the final in France this weekend attracted over 200,000 hits.