Abbey is expected to reveal a jump of almost 20% in first-quarter profits this week, after picking up mortgage customers from struggling rivals. Sunday Times

The bank, owned by the Spanish financial giant Santander, has grabbed between 15% and 20% of the UK mortgage market in the first few months of the year, according to analysts. That compares with only 6% a year ago. Antonio Horta-Osorio, the Abbey chief executive, has sanctioned a recruitment drive for front-line staff in branches and call centres to help support the move.

Abbey hired hundreds of investment advisers last year to push its savings products.