SKIPTON Building Society chiefs have hailed "outstanding" financial results which they say will help to preserve jobs in the town.

They have announced pre-tax profits of £90 million for the six months up to the end of June, up by almost £62 million on the same period last year.

Group chief executive David Cutter said that the results gave the society "great confidence for the times ahead " as the society has "continued to make good progress in growing its customer base".

The society, he said, had "increased its financial strength with profits and capital further improved, providing current and future members with the reassurance that they are dealing with a solid financial institution with a bright future. Significant investment continues to be made in the growth and development of the society, the products and services we provide, the people who make Skipton what it is and the communities in which we operate".

The society is Skipton's biggest employer. In April it announced that it was increasing the size of Skipton Direct, its telephone service centre, by 50 per cent, creating 71 new jobs in the town. Recruitment is currently under way for these jobs.

Mr Cutter added that the society had seen a growth in the number of its customers, up by almost 22,000 in the first six months of this year, to almost 790,000.

He said: "It's very pleasing to see such excellent growth, especially in the unusual circumstances of ultra-low interest rates."

The society has just sold its subsidiary HML, one of Europe's leading third-party mortgage administrators, to Computershare Limited for £47.5 million, subject to approval by the Financial Conduct Authority.