May 2, 2013 / 8:40 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Customer numbers leap at fledgeling UK lender Metro Bank

* Customer accounts rise by 183 percent in 2012

* Deposits nearly treble to 576 mln stg

* 2012 net loss 34.6 mln stg (Adds details)

By Matt Scuffham

LONDON, May 2 (Reuters) - Metro Bank, which launched in 2010 as Britain’s first new high street lender for more than a century, saw customer numbers surge in 2012, benefiting from the unpopularity of the established banks.

Metro Bank, which operates in London and the south east of England, said on Thursday that customer accounts rose by 183 percent to 136,000 at the end of the year, with numbers increasing by a further 25 percent in the first quarter of 2013.

Customer deposits nearly trebled to 576 million pounds ($896 million), echoing the rate of growth in its loan book, which stood at 168 million pounds ($261 million) at the end of 2012.

Challengers such as Metro Bank, Virgin Money and Aldermore have looked to pick up customers either unhappy with the service provided by bigger banks or those who have been shunned by established lenders as they shrink balance sheets and build up capital reserves to meet new regulations.

Britain’s ‘Big Five’ banks - Lloyds, RBS, Barclays, HSBC and Santander UK - have been plagued by scandals ranging from the mis-selling of loan insurance to the rigging of benchmark interest rates.

Metro Bank made a 2012 net loss of 34.6 million pounds ($53.8 million), which it said reflected significant investment in building stores, infrastructure and systems.

It opened its 17th branch last month and plans to have 25 by the end of the year.

The bank raised 126 million pounds in June from external investors to fund future expansion and is targeting a listing on the London Stock Exchange in 2014. ($1 = 0.6430 British pounds)

Editing by David Goodman

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