Bank of Ireland's UK boss says the Irish lender can take on the main British "high street" banks, including Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays, by using its tie-in with the Post Office there to reach customers.
Boosting the Irish bank's UK lending has been identified by executives as a key element in efforts to grow the bank, according to Des Crowley, chief executive of Bank of Ireland UK. "We want to be their leading challenger, providing simple, transparent, accessible products to consumers right across Great Britain as an alternative to the high street banks," Mr Crowley told Britain's 'Daily Telegraph' newspaper in an interview.
"Twenty million potential customers walk through the doors of the Post Office every week. Our role is to work with our Post Office colleagues to make sure we attract a good selection of those customers," he added.
Bank of Ireland UK is hoping to grow by offering in-branch and online services to customers at a time when more established UK rivals are shrinking branch networks.
"Our loan books have deleveraged now from £140bn (€192bn) in 2008 to as low as £85bn, so the big question is how we are going to change that by acquiring more loans and lending customers," Mr Crowley said.
The bank faced controversy in the UK when it raised interest rates for 13,500 customers with tracker mortgages, without any change in official rates. The bank was cleared of any wrongdoing, but suffered adverse publicity. Mr Crowley insists it was the right thing to do, but said communication had been poor.