Nottingham Building Society is continuing its aggressive expansion strategy, as it acquired seven more locations today from the Norwich and Peterborough Building Society.
Although many building societies have retrenched or closed entirely in recent years, The Nottingham now has branches across ten counties and has not ruled out a future move into London.
It believes face-to-face advice is still valued by many customers – and not just the older clientele.
“The building society's base still does have a large number of elderly depositors and savers, but over the last three or four years the average age of our depositors started to fall as we started to engage these different groups,” said The Nottingham's chief executive David Marlow.
“There are busy young families who are starting to think about future responsibilities, and younger demographics who are maybe buying their first home.
“We've worked on making ourselves more relevant to these groups, such as by running an estate agency out of the same offices.”
The Nottingham undertook demographic customer modelling to profile the people who liked its face-to-face advice proposition, identified locations where this demographic was prevalent and has looked for opportunities to take on closing branches in those areas.
The group now runs 67 branches, as opposed to 32 in 2012. It has previously taken on locations from Santander, The Co-op Bank, The Derbyshire Building Society, Shepshed Building Society and Yorkshire Building Society.
According to a survey it commissioned, 75 per cent of people believe it is important to have access to in-person advice.
Yet consumer group Which? expects more than 600 building society branches to close this year, noting that in excess of 100 closed between 2015 and 2016.
Despite this gloomy picture, The Nottingham saw its total assets grow by 8.2 per cent from 2015 to 2016, while over the past five years its gross mortgage lending rose by 24 per cent and branch savings doubled.
“We set out our plan a few years ago to get to 80 or 90 locations across ten counties,” said Marlow.
“We've moved from 32 to 67 so we're well on track, and when we get there we'll reevaluate and set out our next move.”