Barclays to shut hundreds of branches - FT

LONDON Wed Jan 29, 2014 5:19am EST

LONDON Jan 29 (Reuters) - Barclays is planning to shut 400 UK branches, or a quarter of its network, as part of the bank's plan to cut costs, the Financial Times said on Wednesday.

Chief Executive Antony Jenkins is due to lay out a final phase of his overhaul plan in two weeks and set new targets on how staff conduct themselves as he tries to improve culture following a string of industry scandals.

He is expected to put renewed focus on costs, and Wednesday's Financial Times said he would axe 400 of its 1,600 UK branches, without citing sources.

Barclays declined to comment.

Jenkins aims to cut 1.7 billion pounds ($2.8 billion) in annual costs and has previously said thousands of jobs are likely to go as technology improves efficiency. The bank is cutting several hundred jobs in its investment bank, a person familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

Barclays and other UK banks such as Lloyds and RBS are expected to pare their branch networks as customers increasingly use internet and mobile platforms and lenders try to raise profitability.

Barclays is trialling smaller sites in Asda supermarkets, which could replace some traditional branches.

The Sunday Telegraph this week said Barclays could cut 400 UK branches and 40,000 staff, but said that would be over six years, citing sources at the bank.

"The banking industry is going through what I like to call a 100-year transformation," Jenkins said last week in Davos.

He plans to set out eight commitments at annual results on Feb. 11 for Barclays to achieve by 2018. This comes a year after he set out a strategic overhaul - dubbed "Project Transform" - which involved axing 3,700 jobs, pruning the investment bank and shutting nearly one in three branches in continental Europe.

Jenkins last week said the eight commitments would form "the last piece in this big transformation" he is making at the bank.