Awards for excellence - Barclays
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Awards for excellence - Barclays

The world’s most improved bank

For much of the 1980s and 1990s Barclays Bank was a great franchise in slow and gentle decline. It never suffered the massive setbacks and losses that beset its UK rivals, Midland and NatWest, both of which eventually succumbed to takeovers, but neither did it seem to be capable of making any great progress. It mishandled its investment banking build-up and subsequent disposal, it allowed its international network to wither and lost market share in key segments at home by standing aloof from domestic consolidation.

The appointment of a new chief executive, Matthew W Barrett, brought in from Bank of Montreal towards the end of 1999, initiated a marked turnround. In a little over a year in charge, Barrett has reinvigorated the company, implemented a new growth strategy, promoted a new generation of younger managers, completed a key acquisition and joint venture, reorganized the banks' divisions and made it easier to analyze performance by business units.

Shareholders have felt the benefits. In 2000 Barclays reported pre-tax profits of £3.5 billion, up 42% on 1999. It has increased overall income in the first quarter of 2001 compared with Q1 2000, which was itself a record.