Bank boss unconcerned by consumer debt

10 September 2004
The boss of Barclays has been speaking out about debt in the UK, saying he is not worried about the current situation.

Paul Clarke, the retail and wholesale sectors national director, has made an appearance at Duxford, Cambridgeshire to talk to local retailers about the future of the sector.

He said to an invited audience from the retail sector: "We are comfortable with what we see, so don't worry about the debt."

Barclays he is 'responsible' for mor ethan £20 billion of consumer debt in the UK, butMr Clarke remains bullish about what's happening.

He said the general health of the high street is something people should not be too concerned about. However, he added: "I think it is still strong, but I also think the government overstates this."

At present, retail confidence is at its lowest point for the last 18 months, but on the whole, consumer confidence is still good. As Mr Clarke pointed out: "There is still a spend mentality," and he believes that "Christmas sales will be pretty good."

Mr Clarke announced that retail was on the cusp of taking over from manufacturing in terms of importance to GDP, but there were issues to take into account for the future, such as the European Waste Electrical Equipment directive.

This could result on retailers being made to take back old goods on a like-for-like basis.
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