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Triodos Bank in the UK

2016 could be summed up in one word – Brexit.

Although the full consequences of last summer’s decision by the UK to leave the European Union remain unclear, it is reasonable to assert that they will have a major impact on the UK economy, the UK branch, and the wider Triodos family for some time to come, bringing with them as they do, uncertainty, fluctuation, and highly complex challenges.

Despite one of the most tumultuous years in our country’s history, the UK economy did grow by 2.2% – its seventh consecutive year of growth. In the middle of the year the UK employment rate also hit a record-equalling high of 74.5%.

But 2016 also brought signs of some serious underlying problems. The pound fell significantly once the Brexit referendum result was announced, and again during the ruling Conservative Party’s annual conference in October when ‘Hard Brexit’ entered the collective lexicon.

Meanwhile, the UK banking sector itself continued to incur yet more negative headlines with the irresponsible actions that led to – and exacerbated – the 2008 crash still mired in legal drama and tales of wrongdoing.

Against this tumultuous backdrop, our ethical and sustainable values have provided us with a real opportunity to grow our customer base and broaden our share of the market. In 2016 we continued to lend to a diverse range of sectors, including healthcare, organic food and community ownership, delivering our biggest ever year of gross new lending of GBP 143.7m (2015: GBP 132m), a rise of 14.4%. This was tempered, however, by a 1.2% decline in the total value of loans – a direct result of the pound’s aforementioned travails against the euro.

2016 was also one of the most significant in the 22 year history of the UK branch as we made huge strides in the development of our new personal current account which will launch in 2017. The number of personal savings customers, meanwhile, has also continued to grow with existing customers remaining loyal despite the paucity of interest rates. It is therefore expected that the new current account will be welcomed by this existing base while also enabling us to bring new customers into the Triodos fold.

In terms of business banking we financed our largest ground mounted solar project to date and our first ground source heat pump installation. We also launched an innovative finance initiative– ‘Warmer Homes and Greener Communities’ – that made a GBP 15 million funding pool available to the social housing sector to deliver environmental and social benefits. In 2017 we will also be looking to further diversify our lending into new sectors such as greening Universities, while also taking advantage of specific developments in the fields of energy efficiency and energy storage.

Corporate finance was another positive for us in 2016 with over £12m of risk capital across seven deals, including a record timeframe for a successful bond issue (less than four weeks) in the Thrive Renewables issue. The Thrive bond was also the UK’s first Innovative Finance ISA that enables lenders to earn their interest free of income tax for the first time. We also showed great entrepreneurship in completing the acquisition of EBSI and positioning ourselves to try and make the UK Social Impact Bond market function more successfully.

Operationally, we have adapted to a new regulatory process in the Senior Managers Regime, and have opened our first office in London, providing much better access and connectivity to our customers and stakeholders there.

Our marketing team has had great success in raising our profile with widespread coverage on a number of campaigns with several UK national newspapers featuring the SRI campaign; interviews with me – as the new UK Managing Director – in the FT and Forbes; BBC news coverage on our customer the Better Food Company’s bond issue; and on our Warmer Homes and Greener Communities initiatives.

We also had our most successful social media campaign with our film for ‘Organic September’ – ‘The Worst Thing Since Sliced Bread’ – which saw over 230,000 people viewing our film about the provenance of our daily bread.

In 2017 we will continue to be a force for good and a force for change, ensuring that the financial dealings of more and more consumers are truly driven by a “conscious use of money”.

Bevis Watts
Managing Director

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Bristol Energy Cooperative

Triodos Bank has facilitated the construction and operation of a new 4.2 MWp ground mounted solar PV project for Severn Community Energy One C.I.C. Situated on the land at the junction between the M5 and M49 on the northern side in Lawrence Weston, Bristol, the project is wholly owned by a community benefit society, Bristol Energy Cooperative. Part of the income from generated electricity will feed directly into local scheme Ambition Lawrence Weston – a resident-led action group with a ten-year plan to bring jobs and skills into the local area.


Brambletye Fruit Farm

Brambletye is a biodynamic fruit farm based in the High Weald of Sussex. Together, five young professional farmers run Brambletye which grows large apple and pear orchards, as well as redcurrant, blackberry and gooseberry plantings. The farm is home to 36,000 organic apple trees and operates over 25 hectares of land including woodland. Triodos provided finance to build new storage and preparation areas at the farm, and for the installation of solar PV. The electricity generated will be used on site to power cold storage for fruit which is sold in over 20 London markets and surrounding areas.

Arts & Culture

Jackson Foundation Gallery

Kurt Jackson is a leading British contemporary artist who recreates our natural world by transporting us through colour and canvas. The Cornwall-based artist is now expanding the Jackson Foundation Gallery he founded in St Just to provide new and emerging talent with the platform to grow. The Jackson Foundation Gallery was opened by Kurt and Caroline Jackson, with Triodos Bank funding the redevelopment of phase 2 of the gallery in 2016.


Julian House

Julian House works for a just society where socially excluded people are supported and empowered to build sustainable, independent lives. At its foundation Julian House was set up to offer direct support to some of the most marginalised people in society – the homeless. Initially this was limited to offering food and shelter, but over time other projects and services have been developed which not only address the symptoms of homelessness, but also the underlying reasons why men and women are forced onto the streets. Triodos Bank helped Julian House purchase a new property to provide accommodation for the people they support.