High street business pays off for bank


15-02-2002

Barclays, which employs around 78,000 staff and has more than 2,000 branches in the UK, said its high street-based personal financial services division improved operating profits by 18% to 423 million.

The figure for the business banking arm rose 5 per cent to 1.15 billion, while Barclaycard gained 20 per cent to 555 million, helped by strong customer recruitment on the back of sponsoring the FA Premiership.



But Mr Barrett warned competition in the banking sector was intensifying: ''Our customers have more choice than ever before. This keeps us sharp if we do not serve their needs effectively, they will look elsewhere.''



Barclays' operating income rose 11 per cent to 11.36 billion, while operating profit lifted 10 per cent to 4.13 billion.



Mr Barrett said provisions for bad debt were in line with expectations and reflected robust risk management by the bank.



His statement also outlined plans to expand Barclays outside the UK, with continental Europe becoming more of a focus.



''Our business development over the next 10 years will be biased towards increasing the profit stream from outside the UK, while continuing to grow earnings aggressively in a still fragmented home market,'' he said.



He refused to rule out acquisitions, saying: ''We don't feel a compulsion to do a transaction but if it was value-creating and made sense we would not take it off the table.''