Nationwide has published its best ever figures with pre-tax annual profits increasing four-fold from £168m to £677m.

As one of Wiltshire's largest employers with 6,500 staff, the 168 year-old company which has its headquarters in Swindon said it has helped more than 58,000 first time buyers get a home of their own.

Alison Robb, Nationwide group director, complimented the staff at the company for the impressive figures.

She said: “Helping the 58,100 first time buyers is a 37 per cent increase on last year and is 20 per cent of the market share. The whole of mortgage lending was up 31 per cent to £28bn.”

Ms Robb said that while the mortgage market had cooled over the last three months Nationwide was continuing to lend money and also providing mortgages to people who could provide ten or five per cent deposits.

And her message to savers, who increased the Nationwide coffers by £4.9bn to £130.5bn last year, was that while it had been tough over the last few years it was essential that customers took the loyalty schemes which were available for saving purposes.

“We are proud of the fact that we have 15 million customers at Nationwide which is one in four households of the UK,” she said.

Graham Beale, Nationwide’s chief executive, said: “Over the past year we have lived up to our mutual heritage as a building society, delivering real benefits to our members, while ensuring the strength and security of our business.

“We have continued to help our members save, buy their own homes and make the most of their money while leading the way in service, satisfaction, trust and fairness.

“Looking ahead we will maintain the strength of our business while investing to support future growth and changing consumer behaviours in an increasingly digital age.

“We will continue to provide our members with innovative and market leading products and services which together will reinforce Nationwide’s position as a clear and compelling alternative to the established banks.”