DARLINGTON Building Society is ready to reopen its branches on Saturdays in line with the easing of Government restrictions.

And the Society has announced that the return of weekend opening has coincided with a strong performance during the first quarter of 2021.

All branches – Barnard Castle, Bishop Auckland, Darlington, Guisborough, Middlesbrough, Northallerton, Redcar, Stockton and Yarm – will be back open on Saturdays from 9am to 2pm this weekend.

Branches have remained open on weekdays with restricted opening hours throughout the lockdown to help maintain a vital service to members, but they have remained closed on Saturdays for the majority of the past year.

Clare Wilson, Branch Operations Manager, said: “We have followed all the Government guidelines to keep members and staff safe, but now is the right time to return to some kind of normality.

“Members have been extremely grateful for the service we have provided in extremely challenging circumstances over the past year, and we are looking forward to now being able to welcome them at weekends too.”

The announcement comes at a time when the Society is experiencing a high level of demand for its competitive savings products, which have contributed to a strong performance in the first quarter of the year.

Chief Customer Officer, Darren Ditchburn, revealed that the Society had grown both savings balances and the number of members during the national lockdown period. The growth of member numbers has been mainly driven by the Society’s very competitive Regular Saver and Junior ISA accounts.

The Society took the strategic decision to restrict its Regular Saver Account to the local area in order to maintain one of the best rates in the country, while its Junior ISA is rated as the number one in the UK.

During the first quarter, the Society has taken over £10m in additional savings balances, primarily from Easy Access accounts, due to members’ spending being restricted during lockdown.

Mr Ditchburn said: “It has been a difficult period for savers in the first quarter, but Darlington Building Society has taken a typically balanced approach.

“Some rates have had to be tweaked but we have stayed really competitive on our savings offerings by ring-fencing them to the local area rather than reducing the rate. That’s made for a really strong performance so far this year, and it’s now nice to be opening back up, and welcoming members at weekends.”

During lockdown, Monday to Friday opening hours have been 9.30am to 2.30pm. Those opening times have also been extended, although there are some variations across the branch network.