Blackpool consumer lending firm joins growing digital bank

A Blackpool consumer loans company has been bought to join a growing challenger bank.

By Tim Gavell
Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 9:20 am
Updated Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 10:54 am

Oplo, which employs around 300 at its offices off Amy Johnson Way at the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone, has been acquired by London-based Tandem Bank.

Tandem Bank said the deal, spearheaded by Pollen Street Capital for an undisclosed sum, would allow the new group to focus on offering fairer, greener digital banking to people across the UK.

As a result the bank would have more than £1.2bn of total assets, including £230m in green lending, £1bn of funding and more than 171,000 customers.

Susie Aliker, chief executive of Tandem Bank and Alex Mollart, deputy chief executive and founder of Blackpool-based Oplo

Tandem’s chief executive Susie Aliker will lead the combined business, supported by Oplo founder, Alex Mollart, as deputy chief executive and they said that the deal would broaden their product offering across a range of consumer lending products including first and second charge mortgages, home improvement loans, car finance and personal lending – building on the combined lending capabilities of both Oplo and Tandem.

They said that operating under the Tandem brand, the enlarged bank would leverage Tandem’s existing savings, mortgage and climate-friendly home

improvement lending products to offer customers greener financial choices.

It would also build on Oplo’s expertise in lending to offer customers fairer financial choices, focused on the estimated 26 million ‘new mainstream’ customers whose lending needs are underserved by the traditional high street banks.

Oplo's head offices in Blackpool

In growing Tandem’s £230 million of green lending, the Bank has financed 12,000 tonnes in CO2 reductions in the past year alone, while Oplo has helped some 20,000 customers to improve their credit scores since its launch.

Susie Aliker, chief executive of Tandem Bank said: “This is a really exciting moment for Tandem – by combining with Oplo we will create a

bank totally focused on helping our customers to make fairer and greener financial choices.

"The two businesses are a great fit, bringing together a complementary range of lending and savings products, with a shared common purpose to make a difference for our people, customers and the planet. With our flexible digital platform, new enlarged scale and strong profitability, Tandem is fantastically well positioned to become one of the UK’s leading digital banks.”

Alex Mollart, deputy chief executive of Tandem Bank, and founder and chief executive of Oplo, said: “We have built Oplo into one of the UK’s leading consumer lenders with a clear mission to offer financially fair lending products, helping hard-working people across the UK who are often overlooked and underserved by traditional lenders.

“Joining forces with Tandem creates a powerful new force which will enable us to launch smart products and develop new technologies to support even more consumers in their everyday financial lives.”

The Blackpool firm completed its first securitisation in October 2021, £225m, to enable growth.

Tandem Bank’s acquisition of Oplo has been agreed by both companies’ boards with approval from both the companies’ major shareholders. It has received regulatory approval and will complete before the end of January.

No jobs will be lost and the combined business will have 500 employees with offices in London, Blackpool, Cardiff, Durham and Manchester.

Alex Mollart founded Oplo (formerly 1st Stop Group) in 2009, becoming one of the UK’s leading consumer lenders focussed on the UK’s growing market of 26 million new mainstream consumers who remain underserved by traditional banks.

In little over a decade Oplo has provided £915m loans to customers since launch and employs around 300 staff in its Blackpool HQ, with more in other offices in Durham and Manchester.

Tandem launched in 2014 as one of the UK’s original digital challenger banks providing customers with simple, transparent and fair products across its range of savings, green home improvement loans and mortgages. Tandem acquired Harrods Bank in 2018 and Allium Lending Group in 2020, a business focused on the home improvement lending sector.

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