Business Briefs - May 22

PrintThe Nationwide Building Society has reported a 54 per cent rise in annual pre-tax profit to £1.04bn.

The building society reported £677m a year earlier and the result sees Nationwide return to its position of the UK’s second largest mortgage lender.

Nationwide also announced that chief executive, Graham Beale is to retire next year when he will have been in charge for almost a decade.

The building society said the search for a new chief executive would now begin.

It added it expected growth to moderate in the years ahead as the pace of house price growth eased.

Net interest income rose £458m to £2.8bn, as a result of what the building society called “lower retail funding costs and the growth in retail assets”, while saving deposits grew by £1.9bn, despite what it called the “low interest rate environment”.

It blamed lower interest rates on its savings account on the general drift downwards across the wider market.

East Lothian-based Sunamp which produces heat storage batteries that help overcome energy wastage has attracted £1.2 million in funding from a number of investors including former SSE boss Ian Marchant, the Scottish Investment Bank, Highland Venture Partners and Old College Capital – the venture investment arm of Edinbugrh University.

The firm, which was founded by technology entrepreneur Andrew Bissell, said the two-stage investment had been led by Par Equity and Equity Gap.

Construction work has started on the soon-to-be first commercial distillery on the Isle of Harris after fundraising for a new maturation warehouse was completed.

The warehouse is being erected on a plot bought from a local crofter, with completion slated for next month.


Ayr-based builder 3B Construction was awarded the contract for the Isle of Harris Distillers (IHD) facility, which will store up to 4,000 casks, the equivalent of a million bottles.

The company plans to open its distillery in the village of Tarbert this summer. From then on, it will be open every day “bar the Sabbath”.


North-east entrepreneur Robert Cook has been announced as the new commercial director of Bathgate, West Lothian-based Macdonald Hotels – the UK’s largest independent hotel group.

Mr Cook, who until April 2014 was chief executive of De Vere Hotels and Village Urban Resorts and was boss of the Malmaison and Hotel du Vin chains, said it was good to be back with his “ain folk” after joining Macdonald.

He added: “The business has enormous potential for future growth, thanks not only to its superb assets but also to the enthusiasm and ambition of the many, many talented people I’ve encountered at all levels of the company.”

Reporting to group chairman and chief executive Donald Macdonald, Mr Cook will work alongside deputy chairman and finance director Gordon Fraser and deputy chief executive Ruaridh Macdonald.

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