Barclays Kenya to close down seven branches from October

Barclays Bank of Kenya (BBK) will close seven of its branches beginning October 1, putting at risk hundreds of jobs in the targeted units.

Operations of the affected branches will be relocated to nearby units, the bank said as it confirmed that the closures are the result of a restructuring plan that has become necessary with the current market realities.

“Colleagues working in these branches will be redeployed based on available opportunities and matching competency skills,” Barclays said in a memo to staff seen by the Business Daily, adding that it had informed those affected by the changes.

“We have briefed the impacted colleagues and HR (Human Resource Department) will help them make a smooth transition as the changes take effect.”

Top on the list of affected branches are Nairobi’s Moi Avenue and Haile Selassie Avenue branches, a unit in Meru and another in Wundanyi.

The plan will also see Nairobi’s Kawangware, Rahimtulla, and Waiyaki Way branches closed and their operations moved to nearby units.

Barclays last month rolled out a voluntary early retirement scheme it said would affect about 130 staff, but it was not clear whether the number includes those working in the effected branches.

On Monday, the bank played down fears of the closures causing job losses, maintaining that no staff was being sent home. It said that those affected will be redeployed to existing branches.

“Colleagues working in these branches will be redeployed based on available opportunities and matching competency skills, including the opportunities created by the ongoing Voluntary Exit Scheme. There will therefore be no redundancies as a result of this exercise,” Barclays said in a statement.

The bank said it was communicating the changes directly to customers early to avoid possible inconvenience when the changes happen.

“Further, for more convenience, customers have the opportunity to choose any other branch where they would prefer to have their accounts hosted. We therefore expect a smooth transition with minimal or no disruption in serving our customers.”

Barclays made the assurance even as the bankers’ union poked holes into the planned closure of branches, warning that “many workers” may be pushed out against their wishes.

The Banking Insurance and Finance Union of Kenya (Bifu) organising secretary Tom Odero claimed that employees were being pushed to apply for the voluntary early retirement scheme. Barclays said the decision to shut down some of its branches had been informed by a review of its business.

“Earlier in the year, we begun a business optimisation exercise to review our operational efficiency in line with the changing needs of our customers and the dynamic realities in the environment that we operate in,” the bank said.

Barclays Bank of Kenya chief executive Jeremy Awori last year sought to reassure customers that the ongoing sale of a stake by the London-based parent company would not affect local operations.

Barclays Plc announced in March last year that it intends to sell the majority of its stake in Barclays Africa over a period of two to three years, causing jitters across the continent.

Several banks have sent staff home and some have closed their branches across the country amid the rise of online banking and thinned margins in the wake of the rate capping law.

Bank of Africa Kenya, Standard Chartered, Ecobank, Family Bank, Sidian, and Islamic financier First Community Bank are some of the banks that have in the recent past announced the retrenchment of their staff.

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