Barclays group chief executive Matthew Barrett has conceded that his bank will continue to close branches if they remain unprofitable.
The admission came under questioning by Labour MP James Plaskitt at the Treasury Select Committee. Barrett was testifying along with his competitors HSBC chief executive Bill Dalton and Lloyds TSB group chief executive Peter Ellwood.
In a heated exchange with Plaskitt, the Barclays boss admitted that he might close further branches, even if this would leave an area with no bank at all. But he did insist that he would never close down a money-making venture in order to invest in other areas.
He roughly agreed with Plaskitt as to the figure of £10m of losses that a branch would have to run up before it would be closed. Plaskitt countered with the fact that Barclays makes a profit of about that amount every day, so wouldn't it be prudent to sacrifice one day's earnings to keep a branch open.
Barrett responded that it was customer demand for other forms of services such as internet and telephone banking that guided him to make the decision to close.
Barclays recently announced the closing of nearly 200 branches throughout the UK.