• Openreach CEO joins as British banks seek technology skills
  • Garner previously worked for HSBC, Dixons and Procter & Gamble

Nationwide Building Society, Britain’s largest customer-owned lender, named the head of BT Group Plc’s Openreach unit, Joe Garner, as chief executive officer to succeed Graham Beale.

Garner joined the BT operation, which sells network access to other phone carriers, from HSBC Holdings Plc in 2014, and will replace Beale in spring 2016, the Swindon, England-based lender said in a statement on Monday.

In tapping Garner, Nationwide is appointing a CEO with a background in technology and telecommunications, retail and financial services at a time when the U.K.’s largest banks are seeking executives with digital experience to upgrade creaking IT systems and keep customers from switching to new online lenders.

“Joe is an exceptional leader and is exactly the right person to lead the society through the next chapter of its journey,” Nationwide Chairman David Roberts said in the statement. “Joe has an excellent track record in delivering outstanding service to customers across the financial services and retail sectors.”

Before joining BT, Garner, 46, was head of HSBC in the U.K., responsible for its commercial-banking operations as well as consumer lending. He has also held senior positions at Dixons Stores Group and spent the early part of his career at Procter & Gamble Co.

Nationwide in May said Beale, 57, would retire in 2016 after spending nine years in the top job and 13 years as a member of the board.

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