SCOTTISH Friendly grew sales by around 10 per cent last year amid challenging market conditions.

The Glasgow-based savings and investments firm, which is one of a dwindling band of member-owned mutuals, recorded total sales of £42m on the standard industry measure, up from £37.8m in the preceding year.

The company highlighted a 13% increase in sales of its own-brand investment ISAs, to a record £15m. This was achieved during a year in which the fallout from the coronavirus triggered market volatility.

Scottish Friendly said its member numbers also reached a record high of 745,000 in 2020, up from 712,000 in the preceding year. The business now administers more than one million policies.

The firm maintained assets under management at around £5.3bn in 2020.

Scottish Friendly achieved a big increase in scale in 2019 through the acquisition of a £2.4 billion book of life and pensions business from Canada Life UK. Employee numbers have increased to 224 subsequently, from around 190 at the start of last year.

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Acting chief executive Martin Pringle said Scottish Friendly could look forward with confidence.

“The business has shown great resilience over the past year to manage the shock of a global pandemic and still continue to grow and innovate,” said Mr Pringle.

“We responded quickly to events of early 2020 to help set staff up at home and ensure we were able to continue to serve the needs of our members.”

Mr Pringle was appointed acting chief executive this month following the death of Jim Galbraith, who had led the firm since 2017.

He said: “Since Jim’s passing, it has been an incredibly difficult time for everyone involved with Scottish Friendly.

“We will now focus on building on the legacy he left behind and carrying forward the financial mutual ethos he proudly promoted.”