BRITAIN’S BARCLAYS BANK is to expand its presence in the Portugal by opening up to 25 new branches during 2005.The British high street bank, which has been operating in Portugal for 20 years, presently has 50 branches throughout the country. However, up until now most of the branches were investment banks for large corporate clients – individuals wishing to open an account needed to deposit at least 50,000 euros.
However, Barclays’ new international strategy is to expand globally, and Portugal, with its well-developed financial service infrastructure, is seen as a good bet to begin that expansion. Rui Semedo,Chief Executive Officer and Portugal Country Manager, based in Avenida da Republica, believes that one reason for the expansion in Portugal is that Barclays as a group “is initiating a strategy to find its way outside the United Kingdom market. From a strategic standpoint, going global is a way of generating income from new markets and basically making more money,” he says. “It makes sense for us, because Barclays has already been operating here with some success for 20 years and the brand is well-known and well respected.”
The new branches will cater for both individual clients and small and medium size business accounts. “We’re planning to open up our range of products for individuals as well as companies, particularly in the mortgage sector, where we occupy one per cent of total global mortgage assets here and five per cent of all new mortgages – which isn’t to be sniffed at,” says Semedo.
As part of its commitment to Portugal, Barclays’ Chief Executive Commissioner, John Varley, was in Lisbon last month to unveil the expansion plans. Semedo explains: “We want to be able to offer a service with a difference, so that people feel attracted to Barclays because of the quality of service we’re offering. For us, personal service to our clients is all important. There are too many banks in the market that treat their customers as a number on a computerised balance, rather than as individuals,” he adds. “For us, the bank has developed well here in Portugal and this country has proved fertile ground with a steady increase of clients and a corresponding development of a network of branches,” he continued. “We’d like to capitalise on this growth and believe there’s more room for further growth.”