Andrew HaighThe North East’s biggest building society is continuing to deliver steady positive progress after posting a pre-tax profit of £3.5m for the first half of the year, while continuing to invest in new products and improved services for customers across the region.

Newcastle Building Society has more than doubled the £1.5m pre-tax profit it recorded over the same period in 2015, and also showed healthy lending volumes with an increase in the value of its gross residential lending, from £148m to £255m in the first 6 months of 2016.

The Society is currently implementing a £10m programme of investment in the way it delivers its service to customers with improvements to its branch network, telephone and digital offering, and operational infrastructure.

A new signature branch in Gateshead’s Trinity Square development opened this month.  This followed the opening of a newly refurbished North Shields branch in January, and two financial advice centres in Newcastle earlier in the spring, one incorporated in a new flagship branch at the Society’s head office.

Newcastle Building Society also committed to creating 100 new jobs during 2016, and so far more than 50 positions have already been filled in its mortgage, IT, HR, risk and customer service departments.

A new Community Saver account has also been launched that will help provide ongoing financial support in the form of grants made available to charities and community groups located in or around the communities served by its 27-strong branch network.

The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland will see six grants with a cumulative value of £18,000 being made available through the second half of 2016, with plans to substantially increase the number of grants available in 2017 and beyond.  Customers of the building society can nominate causes and local charities located across the branch network for grant funding, and make a positive difference in their local communities.

Andrew Haigh, chief executive at Newcastle Building Society, says: “We are a straightforward building society from the North East that puts our customers at the heart of our business, providing a great range of mortgage and savings products and trusted financial advice. This is what we have been doing for over 150 years and what we will continue to do in the years ahead.

“While we have seen a more volatile economic backdrop over the first half of 2016, which became more pronounced following the vote to leave the European Union, this won’t impact our commitment to providing our customers with the products, services and advice they need.

“It is at times like this that customers want to know that their money is safe, they can get a mortgage to buy a home, and that advice is available to help them navigate the stormy seas.

“I am particularly pleased that we have been able to increase profitability at a time when we are making significant investment into the business with new financial advice centers, our reinvigorated branch refurbishment programme, developing our people, enhancing the resilience of our systems and not least, focusing on the provision of first class service to our customers.

“We have a great deal more in the pipeline for the second half of 2016, and we are particularly excited about the impending launch of a new branch in Yarm which is being progressed through an innovative partnership with Stockton Borough Council and will be located in the newly refurbished Yarm library.

“We will continue to invest in the business to develop our service and products for members, and we will be focusing very closely on delivering our investment programme and supporting our customers and members through these changing and uncertain times.”