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Wednesday, 16 February, 2000, 11:42 GMT
Woolwich looks to the future




The Woolwich has announced modest profits growth in its 1999 results, coupled with a drive into new technology over the coming year.

The bank's chief executive, John Stewart, said profits to 31 December were up 5% on the previous year, from 505.1m to 530.3m ($848).

The Woolwich: launched mobile phone banking venture with Nokia
Earnings per share were up 8.5% at 23 pence, on the back of which the bank is declaring a final dividend of 8.1p.

This makes a total for 1999 of 12p - up 13.2% on the 1998 total of 10.6p.

Mr Stewart said the Woolwich's future strategy would be strongly focused on new technology, with internet and mobile phone banking.

Expanding services

The former building society provides personal finance products and services through more than 400 branches in the UK.

It also operates subsidiaries Banque Woolwich in France and Banca Woolwich in Italy.

Its insurance operations include Woolwich Insurance Services, which sells car and household insurance, and its 90% stake in life insurer Woolwich Life (the other 10% is owned by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Group).

Woolwich also offers its clients financial planning, surveying services, and offshore banking.

Watershed

Mr Stewart said: "The year 2000 will be a watershed for banking as there will be a shake-out based on how banks deal with the new technologies and there will be winners and losers.

"We have chosen a different route from most banks, integrating the new channels across the business."

A key part of this, he said, would be the Woolwich's new Open Plan banking service, which allows customers to access all their accounts by branch, telephone and internet channels.

This year, the Woolwich is set to add mobile phone banking and digital TV banking to the range of Open Plan channels.

The pilot scheme now has more than 44,000 customers and is forecast to have more than 2 million accounts by the end of 2002.

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See also:
04 Feb 00 |  Business
A bank in your pocket
11 Feb 00 |  Business
Banks braced for more mergers
17 Feb 99 |  The Company File
Woolwich shareholders get big pay-out
18 Feb 98 |  Business
New boost for Woolwich shareholders

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