Barclays to cut 500 jobs and 200 more branches

UP TO 500 high street banking jobs will be axed as part of plans by Barclays Bank to close 200 branches next year, more than doubling the number of branches it has shut in the past nine years, and saving nearly pounds 10m in annual costs. No decision has been taken on the exact number or location.

Barclays has 1,900 branches, the second largest estate after Lloyds TSB. The industry has cut 4,000 since 1990, Barclays has shut only 150. The closure programme is expected to lead to the loss of an average two employees per branch. Barclays will consult with Unifi, the union that represents most Barclays staff, as part of its partnership agreement

A spokesman said the bank had been reshaping its operations to put greater focus on new outlets such as Internet banking, and increasing the number of ATMs, better known as "hole-in-the wall" cash machines. There are more than 25,000 cash machines in Britain and the rise of automated banking in any form and the shift of back-office processing to dedicated centres mean costly branches are not needed.

Customer research has shown the number of customers using branches regularly has fallen from more than to half to almost a third in recent years. Branch costs are still high. Salomon Smith Barney estimates the average costs of a transaction in a branch is 67.5p. For telephone banking it is 37p and the Internet costs just 7.5p. But Barclays insists it is planning an investment programme in the rest of the branch network.