Coop Profits from Its Staff and Ethics

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Byline: JOANNE HART

THE Co-operative Bank today sought to distinguish itself from rival banks by stressing its socially-responsible credentials as it announced record profits for the seventh year running.

The bank is confident of continuing progress but forecast slower economic growth and hinted that the sector may experience an increase in bad debts.

"There is evidence to suggest that the economy has passed the most favourable point in the credit cycle," said chief executive Mervyn Pedelty.

Pedelty made great play of attributing the bank's success to its employees at a time when other financial institutions are culling staff and closing branches.

"It is our people who deliver our service levels, who help us to innovate and who keep us ahead of the competition," said Pedelty.

Pre-tax profits increased by 8.7% last year to [pound]96.3 million.

Operating income rose 6.4% to [pound]429 million and operating costs were 4.3% higher at [pound]272.9 million. The ratio of cost to income improved by 1.3% to 63.6%, high by sector standards.

The bank blamed the rise in costs on its internet operation Smile, on its re-entry into the mortgage market after nine years and on employee remuneration. …