Danske Bank has said it looks to the future with optimism as it announced pre-tax profits of £ 38.1million for the first half of 2021.
This hat compares with profits of just £ 2.9million in the same period last year as the pandemic set in.
Danske Bank said retail and business customers saved more and paid off more debt, with bank deposits rising 21% from £ 8.6bn to £ 10.4bn in the first half of the year of this year.
The lender said it had also been able to reduce the amount set aside to cover bad debts, known as loan write-downs, thanks to improved economic prospects and the backstop of government support measures.
Compared to write-downs of £ 29.8million last year, the first six months of 2021 saw a write-back of £ 7.5million.
Last week the bank announced the closure of four branches, leaving it with 32 branches in Northern Ireland.
As it detailed its first half results, the bank also revealed that its chief executive, Kevin Kingston, will be leaving in September.
Mr Kingston said the bank was moving “with growing optimism” and playing a key role in Northern Ireland’s economic recovery.
In March, the bank announced a new £ 500million business growth fund for medium and large businesses, which offers loans to businesses willing to transfer their business from another lender to Danske Bank.
Mr Kingston said the housing market has remained robust over the past six months, with strong demand from buyers.
He said the bank became one of the first UK lenders to reintroduce a 95% mortgage deal during the period, as well as the UK’s first mortgage product to be certified carbon neutral.
Mr Kingston said: “As world, national and local leaders unite to rebuild better after the pandemic, the banking sector must play its part, and in Northern Ireland, Danske Bank is fully committed to this goal. “
In the early stages of the pandemic last year, many lenders withdrew both 90% and 95% of mortgages over fears of the pandemic’s impact on the housing market.
Mr. Kingston’s departure from the CEO post after six years in the post was announced in May, with Vicky Davies announced as his successor.
As he last announced the bank’s results, Kingston said: “In September, I will retire and make way for a new CEO.
“It has been a privilege and an honor for me to lead the bank for the past six years and to work with so many inspiring colleagues.
“I know that new CEO Vicky Davies and our strong local leadership team will continue to put customer experience first, grow the business for the future and build back better. “
Danske announced last week that it would be closing branches in Ballygawley, Co Tyrone, Hillsborough in Co Down, Mallusk in Co Antrim and University Road in Belfast on October 22.