Barclays, the fourth-largest UK bank, yesterday announced it had increased its bad debt provisions to underwrite its recent rise in lending to customers. The bank, which had £277m of bad debt provision last year, said this had risen "in line with increased activity".
This follows its expansion in consumer lending, which has "grown strongly relative to the market". Barclaycard also continued to expand, as the bank has targeted other European markets and issued more than 1 million cards outside the UK.
In the hotly contested mortgage market, Barclays said its policy to sell Woolwich mortgages in its branches had added new business. This follows Barclays' acquisition of Woolwich last October.
Barclays' announcement yesterday was the last opportunity for the bank to guide the market on its progress before its six-months results on 2 August as part of the summer banking reporting season. Its shares rose 30p to 2149p. Reflecting the presence of the Woolwich business on the balance sheet, the bank's overall margin declined year-on-year because of the enlarged contribution to earnings of low-margin mortgage business. Barclays said it was on track to deliver the forecast £80m in pre-tax synergies this year from the acquisition.