Ambitious growth plans are being drawn up by the new top management team at the West Bromwich Building Society.

If the plans come off, the mutual's asset base will grow more than four-fold from #7.2 billion to #30 billion by 2016.

In current terms, growth of such magnitude would see the West Brom leapfrog from ninth place in the building society league table to second behind Nationwide, which is nearly five times bigger than its nearest rival, currently the Staffordshire-based Britannia.

Membership of the 157 year-old West Brom will double to nearly 1.5 million and its workforce will grow by half to about 1,500.

And along the way the society will likely outgrow its 34 year-old headquarters building in High Street, West Bromwich.

The plans were outlined exclusively to The Birmingham Post by the West Brom's chairman, Brian Woods-Scawen who took over from the l ate Roger Dickens in February.

A second high ranking appointment announced recently was that of Stephen Karle, who will step up from operations director to chief executive when incumbent Andrew Messenger retires in September after ten years in the job.

The plans were being drawn up before Mr Dickens died and before Mr Messenger announced he was retiring at the age of 55, Mr Woods-Scawen stressed.

Under Mr Messenger's leadership, the West Brom's assets have shot from #1 billion to #7.2 billion for the year to March 31.

Pretax profit last year, excluding a one-off gain of #3.8 million from the revaluation and sale of investment property, rose by ten per cent to #34.7 million.

Under the ten-year growth plan sketched out by Mr Woods-Scawen yesterday, profits will grow four-fold to to about #150 million, and the society will ultimately return #120 million a year to its members in the form of competitive interest rates.

After nine successive years of record growth, the West Brom, were it a quoted plc, would rate FTSE 250 status and its shares rated at a premium to the market.

"Andrew Messenger has done an outstanding job in leading the society, which is now renowned for best practice in everything we do," Mr Woods-Scawen said.

"But the world is changing fast and our customers' expectations are changing. We have spent a lot of time in the last year thinking about what that means for the society, so it is not a case of new management changing direction.

"We have to ensure that everyone in the West Midlands recognises that as an organisation we are economically important for the region.

"The West Midlands needs high growth industries, and financial services is one. The West Brom is a core part of that industry.

"We have very high ambitions that mean that over the next ten years we plan to triple our lending and quadruple our profits as well as increase our workforce by about half and become a #30 billion organisation in terms of our balance sheet."

Such confidence is based on the society's strong capital base and on its flexibility in responding to customers' financial needs in a world in which "ordinary working families" are affected by inheritance tax thanks to the soaring value of their houses, Mr Woods-Scawen said.

New products will help to drive growth in the core building society business and higher levels of commercial lending will also strengthen the balance sheet.

"We don't see competition from other building societies as a constraint on our own growth - that will be due to how well the clearing banks grow their mortgage businesses and whether more foreign banks move into the UK."