3. Danske Bank
- Chief executive: Kevin Kingston
- Pre-tax profit: £88.8m
- Employment: 1,328
- Pay bill: £57.4m
Danske Bank in Northern Ireland reported pre-tax profits of £88.8m and a profit before impairments of £92m for the year to end December 2018.
Profit before impairment charges was down 22%. But the bank said that the underlying performance of the business remained strong. The year before, 2017, had benefited from two one-off credits following sale of the bank’s wealth business and pension changes.
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In 2018, total income was up 2% year-on-year reflecting growth in lending (8% higher) and deposits (7% higher) and higher UK interest rates, partially offset by the inclusion in 2017 of income from the proceeds of the sale of the bank’s wealth business.
The bank said that the year-on-year increase in expenses was primarily due to the non-recurring impact in 2017 of changes made to the bank’s pension scheme.
Underlying costs were 4% higher, which the bank said was due to ongoing investment in new customer solutions and skills.
Profit before tax reduced year-on-year, further reflecting a low net loan impairment charge in 2018 compared to the net recoveries reported in recent years.
Danske Bank said it continued to have a strong capacity to support further lending growth as demonstrated by a loan to deposit ratio of 76%.
It was also a strong year for Danske Bank’s mortgage business, with new mortgage lending up 26% compared to 2017.
Danske Bank says that it has more mortgage consultants based in NI than any other bank, and has now set up a new team of relationship managers dedicated to serving the independent mortgage broker network.
It says that it’s now providing one in four first time buyer mortgages and one in five of all mortgages in NI.
Danske Bank said that it was also delighted to win the overall in-house contact centre of the year accolade at the Contact Centre Network Northern Ireland awards.
During 2018 Danske Bank also saw further adoption of its digital channels, with more than 4 million digital logons per month.
New offerings included the introduction of a new customer App, as well as new customer mobile payment options. Danske said that it also became the first of the main local NI banks to offer customers all of the main contactless services, having previously introduced Apple Pay and Fitbit Pay.
Danske also launched a dedicated fintech co-creation space on the ground floor of its Belfast headquarters — the Catalyst Belfast Fintech Hub.
It announced two branch closures in response to “continuing changes in customer behaviour”. Following the closures, the bank will have a network of 40 branches.
In corporate and business banking, lending was up 6% year-on-year during 2018.
Some notable deals included funding support for Andras Hotel Group, IT company Novosco, consumer goods firm SHS Group, agri business Devenish Nutrition and garden goods supplier Westland.
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