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Nationwide savers flock to branches as profits rise

Dominic West features in Nationwide’s advertising campaign

Nationwide Building Society, which is currently promoting its commitment to branches, said almost a quarter of savings accounts were opened in its high street outlets during the first half of the year.

The society said it had extended its Branch Promise, to not leave any town or city in which is based until at least 2026.

“We now have the largest single-brand branch network in the UK, and 23% of our savings accounts were opened in branches this half year,” it said.

The society’s chief executive Debbie Crosbie noted that cost of living pressures “are starting to ease”.

It delivered its highest ever level of member financial benefit of £885 million and distributed £344 million to its members through the Nationwide Fairer Share Payment in June 2023.

The member-owned lender said statutory profit for the six months to the end of September rose to £989m from £969m a year earlier.

Rising interest rates supported growth in total underlying income to £2.4bn (H1 2022/23: £2.2bn). Net interest margin improved to 1.66% (H1 2022/23: 1.48%).

Ms Crosbie said: “Encouragingly, economic activity, while still weak by historical standards, has held up better than expected, and there are signs that cost of living pressures are starting to ease.

“However, conditions for households are likely to remain challenging in the near term, as the effect of previous interest rate increases feeds through and labour market conditions soften.

“Bank rate is at or close to its peak, though there are significant risks in both directions driven by the ongoing uncertainty surrounding demand prospects and the supply capacity of the economy.

“The housing market has slowed and house prices have edged lower as a result of the higher interest rate environment. While activity is anticipated to remain subdued in the short term, income growth and lower fixed rate mortgage rates should help to improve housing affordability over time.

“Household deposit growth has also slowed, mirroring the decline in mortgage lending. However, there has been significant movement within the deposits market, stimulated by the higher rates available, with customers transferring money from current accounts and instant access savings into fixed rate savings.

“Despite the uncertain economic outlook, the credit quality of our lending portfolios is strong and our capital resources are robust. As more households adjust their expenditure priorities in the higher interest rate environment, we will continue to support those borrowers who face payment difficulties.”

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