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Barclays to close 19 branches in Portugal

Barclays Bank is to close down 19 of its branches in Portugal as part of a nationwide cost-cutting exercise.

In an official statement sent to the Algarve Resident, Barclays blamed a “slowdown in the banking market and a reduction plan in its cost base”.

The bank said that the branch closures represented 7% of its 279 branches and insisted there wouldn’t be any redundancies.

Staff from those branches would be “transferred to another nearby branch of their choice.”

Barclays insisted that the branches to be closed “are in places where currently the bank’s activity doesn’t justify maintaining the same. However, one of the main reasons behind the decision was the existence of branches nearby, which would have the least daily impact on customers.”

In addition, so as to minimise the effect of transferring client accounts from these branches to other nearby branches, the bank will ensure that “at least one member of staff” moves from the current branch to the other branch.

As to the rest, “they will be relocated in other places and jobs, without there being a reduction in human resources, with the exception of “eventual voluntary redundancies as a result of the company’s amicable contract termination agreement currently underway.”  

On February 7, the newspaper i reported that the bank sent its 2,500 staff a message in which they were informed of the conditions of a amicable contract termination programme that the company intended to make.

On the same day, an official Barclays source told the news agency Lusa that the plan presented was “strictly voluntary”, and that “no member of staff would be forced to reply positively or negatively”.

Only staff that considered this an “opportunity” to embrace new personal or professional challenges were “invited to respond if they so wished”.

Barclays has been in Portugal since 1981. “We are currently pursuing a consolidation policy in Portugal, each moment taking the management measures that will enable the continuation of a healthy operation and prepared to keep pace with growth in the market should that happen,” stated the same official Barclays source to the news agency Lusa last week.

Questioned about the eventual number of amicable contract termination agreements already made, an official Barclays source refused to give a number, explaining that the bank didn’t make provisional balances.

The amicable contract termination agreement programme will supposedly end by the middle of next month.

As to the reduction in the number of branches, Barclays also added that the measure was “part of its consolidation position” in the country.

The Algarve Resident tried to find out which branches would be closing but a Barclays spokesman said he couldn’t disclose the information before all clients were contacted.

“Out of courtesy to our clients, we feel they need to be made aware of the closures first and not via the press. Clients are being contacted now and this process should be concluded between April and May,” he said.

The spokesman would also not confirm how many branches would be closed in the Algarve, simply stating that closures would be taking place all over the country.