August 11, 2017 / 6:31 AM / 8 days ago

Britain's Nationwide posts 18 pct fall in Q1 profit

LONDON, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Britain's Nationwide Building Society said its profit fell 18 percent in the first quarter and the volume of mortgage lending dropped, although it reported strong growth in the number of current account customers.

Britain's second-biggest provider of mortgages posted underlying profit before tax of 301 million pounds ($390.91 million) for the three months to end-June, down from 368 million pounds in the same period a year ago. Last year's figure was boosted by a 100 million pound gain for the sale of its investment in Visa Europe.

The lender also said 202,000 new current accounts were opened during the period, a 17 percent rise compared to last year.

Nationwide has in recent months pared back its business model, cutting product lines such as car insurance and inheritance tax and planning to focus more on its core product of home loans.

The group's gross mortgage lending during the quarter fell to 8.1 billion pounds from 8.6 billion a year ago.

The lender said on Friday that although the British public had become less optimistic about the economic outlook, research conducted for its Brexit Consumer Support Panel showed the majority of consumers expect Britain's EU exit to leave their ability to access credit unchanged.

"It will be important for lenders to balance carefully credit supply with affordability as we seek to support the long-term interests of consumers in a responsible way through any potential economic slowdown ahead," Chief Executive Joe Garner said. ($1 = 0.7700 pounds) (Reporting By Anjuli Davies; Editing by Rachel Armstrong)

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