After media reports surfaced yesterday that Barclays will close nearly a quarter of its 1600 U.K. branches, the bank responded by denying that it plans making any “significant” branch closures in a statement released today.
U.K publications reported that Antony Jenkins, Barclays’ chief executive, said the bank would cut the branch network, as well as 400 employees from its investment division. Jenkins will announce the banks’ fourth quarter results on Feb. 11, when he is also expected to reveal a new five year plan for the bank to increase its profitability, which will include cutting 1.7 billion pounds in costs by next year, media reports said. The bank is also urging employees to cut down on non-essential travel expenses, reports added.
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The bank denied the branch closings, but said in a public statement that it is considering closing some branches over time as “increasing use of technology is changing the way in which customers choose to do their banking and creates opportunities for Barclays to offer new services in new ways.” But the bank stated that there is currently no time frame for those closures.
Media reports suggested that the bank planned to replace the 400 branches with smaller locations inside Asda supermarkets. Barclays is already piloting such locations.
Reports of the closures generated some public backlash against the bank, explaining why the bank would be so quick to respond publicly and clarify its plans. Barclays said that any future branch closures would be driven by customer need, not by cost-cutting, and added that it would “never leave a community without the ability to transact.”