Barclays Africa to spend $118 million on branch network

JOHANNESBURG Mon Dec 2, 2013 2:40pm GMT

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Barclays Africa Group (BGAJ.J) plans to spend 1.2 billion rand (72 million pounds) over the next three years on refurbishing its branch network in South Africa, its head of retail and business banking said on Monday.

The bank previously called Absa is trying to win back lower-income customers lost to Capitec Bank Holdings (CPIJ.J) and business clients taken by Standard Bank (SBKJ.J), Craig Bond said at a media briefing. The bank still uses the Absa brand in South Africa.

"We lost a lot of customers to Capitec. We were very conservative on personal loans," said Bond, who joined Barclays in January from Standard Bank (SBKJ.J), where he had been head of the China business.

Barclays has "lost hundreds of thousands of customers" to Capitec, he said.

Capitec, South Africa's sixth-largest bank by market value, has enjoyed rapid growth by focusing on lucrative, short-term loans to low-income borrowers who were previously under-served by South Africa's main street banks.

Barclays now plans to win back retail customers by both upgrading individual branches, and rejigging its branch network to meet needs of local areas, Bond said.

(Reporting by David Dolan; Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa)

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