Challenger bank OakNorth has revealed plans to expand its lending operations to Manchester on the back of increasing demand for its loans across the regions.

The company has always had an operations team based in Manchester, which has grown to 15-strong since its launch in September 2015.

However, it believes there is a need to have a local lending team who can make credit decisions based on their knowledge and experience of businesses in the region.

OakNorth has this year completed several transactions with businesses in the North, including a £40.2 million loan to Select Property, a £33 million loan to Mabec Property and providing The Inn Collection Group with finance to fund its expansion.

The news was welcomed by Tim Newns, CEO of Manchester's inward investment agency MIDAS, who said: "OakNorth doubling its team in Greater Manchester perfectly reflects the booming business environment in the city region and across the wider North of England."

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Ben Barbanel, head of debt finance at OakNorth, added: "Since our launch in September 2015, we have helped hundreds of businesses across the UK achieve their growth ambitions, creating thousands of new homes and jobs in the process.

"We have done numerous deals with businesses in the North of England, transacting loans from our headquarters in London. However, given our pipeline for 2019 and the demand we are seeing from businesses in the North, there is a need to have a local debt finance team with the ability to make credit decisions on the ground in the North.

"We currently have a world class technology and operations function managed out of Manchester, so we want to continue building on this, tapping into the local talent pool, to broaden our regional offering to lending as well."

To date, OakNorth has lent £2 billion to businesses across the UK, with clients ranging from restaurants, hotels, care homes and nurseries, to tech businesses, professional services companies, private equity firms and property developers.