Banco Santander to slash an extra 1,000 jobs at Abbey

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The Independent Online

Spain's biggest bank, Banco Santander Central Hispano, plans to slash a further 1,000 jobs at Abbey, which it acquired last year, to accelerate its cost-cutting programme.

Spain's biggest bank, Banco Santander Central Hispano, plans to slash a further 1,000 jobs at Abbey, which it acquired last year, to accelerate its cost-cutting programme.

Santander said yesterday it would cut 4,000 jobs at Abbey, rather than 3,000 as previously announced, as part of a programme to slash costs by at least £150m by the end of the year. Francisco Gomez-Roldan, Abbey's new chief executive, said that 2,400 Abbey staff had been given their notice in the first quarter and that 1,000 of them had already left. Two call centres have been closed. He said he was working hard to beat the £150m cost-cutting target.

Amicus, Britain's largest private-sector union, condemned the job cuts. Hugh Scullion, the union's regional officer, said: "This is an example of worst practice and is typical of the way Banco Santander has managed Abbey since they bought the group. They have been continually moving the goal posts at the expense of staff morale and job security, which can only have a knock-on effect on customer service."

Abbey's new management faces a tough task to reverse the bank's decline in revenues and market share. Jose Antonio Alvarez, Santander's finance chief, defended the reorganisation plans for Abbey, saying: "We're on a good path to achieve a stabilisation of revenue [in 2005]. We installed a new model of managing branches. We've increased the number of licensed sales people."

Abbey said that while it still had "a long way to go", its first-quarter results showed signs of recovery. Overall, Abbey brought €153m to Santander's bottom-line earnings in the first quarter. The Spanish bank's net profits surged 39 per cent to €1.19bn. Without Abbey, profits would have risen 21 per cent.

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