Metro Bank Plc is starting to make money: The six-year-old U.K. lender, founded by former Commerce Bank chief Vernon W. Hill II of Moorestown and publicly-traded since its IPO last Spring,  eked out its first operating profit of 600,000 U.K. pounds in the three months ended Sept. 30 after boosting deposits 66% to 7.3 billion pounds ($9.5B) and loans 73% to 5.2 billion pounds ($6.8B) since last year.

Metro boss Craig Donaldson, one of the busy North-of-England managers Hill has put in charge of peeling customers from entrenched London retail and small-business lenders at the country's five dominant banks, expects Metro's first after-tax profits next quarter, he told the London Telegraph.

Founder Hill credits Metro's growing network of glass-walled fast-service branches: "This is the Commerce model, working unbelievably well in Britain," he told me. "These growth numbers, no one in the Western world has ever seen anything like this, including from me." He compared it to Commerce's entry into the New York City market in the early 2000s.

But won't the dominant U.K. banks meet Metro's tactics -- extending hours, simplifying fees -- as Commerce's U.S. competitors eventually did? "It'll never happen," Hill insisted. "Those are five big, ugly banks. They are still laying people off."

Metro is projecting a total of more than 100 "stores," 25 billion UK pounds in deposits, and an 18 percent return on invested capital by 2020, with continuing annual growth above 25%, organic (without acquisitions). Plus 2,500 staff and no share dividend, Hill added.

(Unlike U.S. branch-banking leader Wells Fargo, which stopped calling its branches "stores" after it was fined $185 million for unauthorized sales earlier this year, Hill says he doesn't believe in paying bonuses for extra accounts. He has acknowledged demanding staff work harder than has been the custom in English banking.)

Hill has no plans to spread Metro beyond England. Even if it meets 2020 targets -- "we're not a blip anymore" -- Metro will still be "just 3% of the London market, 1% of the UK market," Hill says. "We don't intend to take it outside Britain," where "we are the only growth bank." Certainly not to the U.S., where Hill has said strict bank regulation doesn't favor growth. 

Hill is also an investor in Philadelphia-based Republic First Bank Corp., which boosted revenues 48% last quarter over year-ago levels after opening a string of South Jersey branches. Like Metro, Republic, which is modestly profitable, sees Commerce and its branch-forward retail strategy as its model. But, facing weak U.S. bank profitability in the face of low rates, Republic shares have been stuck in the $4-5 range despite its rapid growth.