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Lending to independents hits record monthly high

A bank created to support independent retailers has recorded its first month of lending £1m to its customers following a drive to expand and lift its profile in the industry.

Bira Bank, part of the British Independent Retailers Association and the only UK bank to be owned by a trade association, lent £1m to just under 100 members in the month of March, a 76% increase year on year.

The bank’s managing director John Collins said that its policy of expanding the products it offers and approaching more members was starting to bear fruit.

He said: “Not only does it signify growing awareness of the bank but much more importantly we are seeing the first signs that members are becoming more confident and choosing to invest in their future”.

Collins added that the bank’s decision to follow a strategy for growth was partly down to carrying the burden of increased costs resulting from the impact of regulatory intrusion following the banking crisis.

He said: “The extra cost we’re carrying as a result of regulation means that we are expanding our product base to raise our profile amongst the membership and to get as many members as we can to use the service”.

First established in 1955, Bira Bank counts 5000 independent retailers among its customer base. Collins said that the unwillingness of high street banks to lend was creating more demand for Bira Bank from small businesses in need of access to funds.

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