KBC Bank Ireland has reported net profits of €15m - after tax and impairments - for the first quarter of the year.

This is down substantially from the €59m reported the same time last year due to lower net interest income, increased costs and lower loan loss impairment releases.

The bank said today that its stock of non-performing loans reduced to €2.4 billion in the first three months of the year.

It added that the sale of performing commercial loans - worth about €260m - to Bank of Ireland is expected to close in the coming months.

During the first quarter, KBC Bank Ireland saw its customer numbers rise by 10% as it added 18,000 new customer accounts to bring its total to 292,000.

Meanwhile, its new mortgage lending increased by 9% in the first quarter compared to the same time last year.

The bank also noted that digital activity on the KBC mobile app rose by 50% year-on-year.

Peter Roebben was appointed as the bank's new chief executive here in March following executive roles at KBC Group's head office in Brussels. 

Mr Roebben said that as a "digital-first, customer centric challenger bank", KBC Bank Ireland wants to be a positive force for choice in the market, offering customers the banking services they want and deserve.

"We are living in a new era of openness and transparency, not just in banking, but across society," the KBC Bank Ireland boss said.

"Following in the footsteps of my predecessor, and as the new CEO of KBC Bank Ireland, it is my intention to embrace the opportunity this presents and to provide the kind of leadership necessary for KBC Bank Ireland to make a difference in the lives of our customers," he added.

The bank's parent group reported first quarter profits of €430m.