Chester leaders offer support to MBNA staff

Cheshire West & Chester Council said it will assist any employees affected by the credit card business' announcement to cut 400 jobs in Chester on a voluntary basis.

Bank of America Europe Card Services, which operates the MBNA brand, has announced the commencement of a collective consultation process for its site in Chester, which currently employs 3,200.

Through the consultation process, the business anticipates the reduction of around 400 roles from its Europe card business and the intention is to do this through voluntary means.

Bank of America put its UK and Ireland credit card business up for sale in August, putting the future of staff at Chester's largest private sector employer in doubt.

Ian O'Doherty, Bank of America's Europe card executive, said: "The difficult economic circumstances in which we are currently operating and Bank of America's decision to exit the Europe Credit Card business has prompted, over recent months, a fundamental review of our business with the purpose of streamlining our operations.

"The announced programme of reductions is one of the actions identified through this review, with the objective of making our operations more efficient and preparing the business for Bank of America's exit."

Steve Robinson, chief executive of Cheshire West & Chester Council, added: "Whilst we understand that MBNA are asking for these redundancies on a voluntary basis, the council has offered its assistance to anyone who may need help in finding alternative employment.

"The multi-agency Redundancy Action Support Team, that helped deal with a number of Redundancy situations throughout the county, is on standby and will be happy to deal with any requests from MBNA employees."

Steve Broomhead, chairman of Chester Renaissance, emphasised that the announcement should be kept in perspective and regarded as a predictable step by the company to increase its attraction to prospective buyers.

Broomhead said: "MBNA Europe have recently announced very good financial figures for 2010 – £236m profit after tax- and are streamlining the organisation to meet requirements of the worldwide financial situation. Both factors likely to find favour with interested parties."

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