The loyalty of local customers has been credited with driving growth at a Swedish bank which has branches in Birmingham and Solihull.

Handelsbanken’s 2011 results revealed a 31 per cent increase in lending to UK individual and corporate customers, taking total UK lending to more than £8.5 billion.

In addition, customer deposits increased by 44 per cent, a rise which the bank said reflected its “reputation for strength and stability”.

Financial information provider Bloomberg last year rated Handelsbanken the world’s second strongest bank.

Handelsbanken’s Birmingham branch in Temple Row has also reported a strong start to the year.

Birmingham branch manager Tony Hall said: “The bank’s philosophy of providing a first class service to corporate and individual clients has contributed to a very strong set of results in a challenging financial climate.

“Locally we continue to grow our business by offering a true relationship banking service via our de-centralised model. This has been enhanced with our branch in Solihull now open and Tamworth soon to follow.”

The Birmingham branch is one of 119 British branches. Handelsbanken puts its continued growth, which saw 21 new branches opened in 2011, down to “a clear, long-term focus on customer satisfaction, prudent banking and cost efficiency”.

Anders Bouvin, Handelsbanken’s UK chief executive, said: “We are building a British bank for the long term, and our success rests squarely on developing strong and lasting customer relationships.”