THE Co-operative Bank has announced record profits for the tenth year in succession.
The bank has reported pre-tax profits of £ 130.1 million for 2003, up 6.2 per cent (£ 7.6 million) on the previous year, demonstrating yet again say the bank that ethics, coupled with high standards of service, is a sustainable formula.
The bank's Return on Opening Equity, after tax, was 17.6 per cent. Operating Income increased by 4 per cent to £ 502.9 million and there was a 9.7 per cent reduction in the charge for bad debts from £ 70.1 million in 2002 to £ 63.3 million last year, which was partially offset by higher operating costs.
In 2003, growth in retail customer deposit and lending balances continued to be strong. Average customer retail deposits of £ 6,158 million grew by £ 680 million (12 per cent) and were £ 1,208 million higher than retail lending balances.
Average customer retail lending balances increased at a faster rate than deposits and were £ 4,950 million, higher than 2002 by £ 1,005 million (25 per cent), with particularly strong growth in the bank's mortgage range.
Chief Executive Mervyn Pedelty (pictured) said: "We have developed a formula for success over the past decade and everyone associated with the Co-operative Bank should be proud of our achievements."
Mr Pedelty said that the bank's commitment to exceptional levels of customer service was central to the bank's success.
"In independent surveys, the Co-operative Bank is consistently rated as among the very best for customer satisfaction and we firmly believe that our staff are key to delivering the quality of service our customers have come to expect."
smile, the bank's full service internet bank, continues to excel and attract new customers with its distinctive on-line offering. During the year smilemore, an added benefit current account, and a "best buy" credit card were introduced to smile's portfolio of products.
During 2003, the bank enjoyed a considerable expansion of its position within the residential mortgage market with growth aided by Co-operative Insurance Society financial advisers who were particularly successful in introducing an expanded mortgage product range to CIS customers.
Following the formation of Co-operative Financial Services in 2002, work to bring the bank and CIS together under common leadership continues apace. The new combined operation has assets of more than £ 30 billion and employs around 14,000 staff.
Earlier this year, CFS announced that it was bucking the trend of "off-shoring" call centre jobs abroad by looking to recruit 500 staff for its seven service centres in the North West of England
Said Mr Pedelty: "We have been delighted by messages of support from customers and the general public since we announced that we won't be outsourcing our front-line customer contact services overseas.
"CFS is now on course to achieve the objective of ensuring that its seven million customers are offered a much broader range of co-operative financial services than they could previously receive from either the bank or CIS operating independently."