A NORTH-EAST building society has promised to ‘invest heavily’ in products and services this year.

The pledges were made by Chair, Jack Cullen, and Chief Executive, Andrew Craddock, during Darlington Building Society’s AGM, which reported outstanding financial results for last year.

The 166th AGM was held at the headquarters of the Great North Air Ambulance Service at Urlay Nook,on Teesside, where the Society confirmed that, despite the pandemic, strong trading results for 2021 had led to a pre-tax profit of £3.2m.

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This is up from £0.7m in 2020 and is believed to be a record in the Society’s 166-year history. The balance sheet also showed strong growth, with total assets of more than £750m.

The Society reaffirmed its annual commitment to donate 5% of its profits to good causes. Last year this amounted to £88,000 being donated to 28 good causes, after the board topped up the pot following reduced 2020 profits due to the pandemic.

Mr Cullen said that the Society had delivered “some fantastic achievements” in 2021, with major investment in technology, including a new mortgage processing system.
He added: “My key message is that your board has embarked upon a strategy that will continue to invest heavily in the business, improving the services and products we can offer.

“Our investment will continue into 2022 and beyond. It will see us deliver a more modern, efficient, vibrant and sustainable Society, but one that will remain rooted to our principles and community.”

Mr Cullen said the Society would also continue to invest in its branch network after underlining its commitment to the High Street in 2021 by relocating the Redcar branch to a larger, more prominent location, and renovating a number of other locations.

There was also a commitment to go on rewarding savers by passing on as much as possible of any future Base Rate rises by the Bank of England.

Mr Craddock, who was praised by Mr Cullen for his “outstanding leadership”, announced that the Society was hoping to continue to reward savers where possible, with a further Bank of England rate increase expected in May.

The Chief Executive warned that the war in Ukraine, and the cost of living crisis, would impact on the UK economy, creating mortgage affordability issues for existing and new members.

“It is, therefore, important that we carry on standing by our members, our people and our local communities,” said Mr Craddock. 

“We’re looking at supporting existing borrowers to make sure they can keep up with mortgage repayments, while carefully assessing the affordability of new borrowers.

“The Society has a proud history with many generations of members contributing to its strength today. We must keep working together to ensure that future generations of members continue to reap the benefits.”

The GNAAS headquarters was chosen as the venue for the AGM as it is the Society’s charity partner for its Affinity Savings Account. The Society donates £5 to GNAAS for every account opened, and an additional £500 donation was made as a thank you for hosting the AGM.

Neeraj Sharma, Chief Executive of the Daisy Chain Project also spoke at the meeting. As one of the Society’s Local 5 charity partners, Daisy Chain is supported by the Society through volunteering and fundraising. Last year, the charity also received a donation of nearly £15,000 from Darlington Building Society’s 5% Pledge to buy a polytunnel which enables autistic people to grow their own produce. 

Mr Sharma said: “Darlington Building Society has been incredibly generous to us and the impact the polytunnel had was immense.”

Members voted to approve all of the Society’s resolutions, including the directors’ report, annual accounts, and re-election of all directors.

• For further information, go to www.darlington.co.uk/AGM


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