Bosses said the £2.4 billion pre-tax profit for the first three months of the year came through strong growth in its corporate and investment banking division and an improved mortgage book.
The bank’s high street division had a mixed period as the recent lockdowns reduced consumer spending, but the stamp duty holiday continued to help the housing market and its mortgage division.
Impairment charges – money put aside in case of defaulting loans – were also significantly reduced as the economy improved and the post-pandemic outlook appeared more stable compared with a year ago.
The charges for the quarter were just £100 million compared with £2.1 billion a year ago, although, unlike rivals NatWest and Lloyds, Barclays said it will not release the provisions just yet.
Chief Executive Jes Staley said: “Since the early days of the pandemic last year, our diversified business has demonstrated the resilience critical to ensuring Barclays’ financial integrity.”
He pointed out that the corporate and investment bank (CIB) had a particularly strong quarter, with income of £3.6 billion, and return on tangible equity (RoTE) – the bank’s preferred measure – was 17.9 per cent.
Mr Staley added that the CIB growth “partially offset challenges in our consumer businesses that have been impacted by lower spend and activity levels as a result of the pandemic.”
Barclays UK saw income of £1.6 billion – down 8 per cent – as savings and spending during the lockdown slowed, although its mortgages grew by £3.6 billion to £151.9 billion.
Mr Staley added: “As we enter the next phase of this pandemic, we remain resolute in our commitment to support the economic recovery.”
“From our spend data, which captures UK economic activity across our cards and acquiring businesses, we are already seeing encouraging early signs of recovery in some sectors, including those hit hardest by the crisis.”
A finance partnership with Amazon, first launched in Germany, will also be extended to the UK.