YORKSHIRE Building Society unveiled a £160m spending plan as it grew market share but saw underlying annual profits fall.
The UK’s second-biggest building society will plough the cash into branch openings, back office systems, staff development, mobile and internet technology and improving products and services. It will invest £60m in 2013 under the five-year plan.
After a string of acquisitions in recent years, the mutual said its focus is now on organic growth.
The Yorkshire also said it could launch current accounts across the group, expanding into everyday transactions alongside its core of home loans and savings.
The Yorkshire posted core operating profits of £137.2m in 2012, a 16 per cent fall on the £163.2m achieved in 2011.
“It (the profits fall) does not unduly concern us as it would a major bank,” said chief executive Chris Pilling. “That’s the second-highest core operating profit we’ve ever had.
“Our challenge is to make sure we grow sustainably.”
Statutory pre-tax profits were boosted by a debt buyback, growing 21 per cent to £157.1m.
New mortgage lending increased 12 per cent to £4.6bn - boosting market share from 2.9 to 3.2 per cent. Customers increased six per cent to 3.5 million, as the mutual said it provided a “trusted alternative” to big UK banks, reeling from scandals including Libor-rigging.
Customers opened 340,000 savings accounts during the year, a record number.
The Yorkshire has snapped up Barnsley, Chelsea and Norwich & Peterborough (N&P) building societies in recent years, also buying the Egg mortgage and savings book in 2011. Mr Pilling said the focus will now be on “consolidating” that position.
At the moment it only offers current accounts through N&P.
These grew by 24 per cent during 2012, although it does not quantify how many current accounts it has.
Mr Pilling said the Yorkshire has not yet made the “transformational decision” whether to launch current accounts across the group, but it is on the “list to do”.
The building society opened four new branches in 2012 to take its total to 228, and plans to open another four this year, as well as adding to its 96 agencies.