This is a Marks & Spencer bank. Over the next two years, the retailer is opening 50 new in-store branches throughout the country, the first of which will launch in July at M&S's flagship Marble Arch store.
This is big news. New banks don’t open every day. M&S Bank is actually a collaboration with HSBC – in many ways similar to the collaboration between Sainsbury’s and Lloyds Banking Group and the former collaboration between Tesco and Royal Bank of Scotland.
While this is not revolutionary, it is a shrewd move by HSBC. For a long time we have seen new players entering the banking and payments space. They have been agile, innovative, provide great customer experiences and are therefore a major threat to the
traditional financial institutions. By innovating with M&S, HSBC is heading off the threat, gaining new customers and capitalising on the fantastic brand recognition and reach that M&S has.
And it’s the brand recognition that will be the real winner with consumers. Whereas banks have arguably lost the trust of their customers, M&S quite rightly claims it is one of the most trusted brands on the UK high street and that it’s achieved this
by continually listening and responding to the needs of its 21 million customers.
As a result, M&S Bank will have longer day and weekend opening hours, which will go down very well with consumers. It’s a great example of a customer led initiative. We know that consumers want services which match their lifestyle; M&S and HSBC are responding
to this and will gain business as a result.
The timing couldn’t be better for the two brands either. Back in February, Tesco announced it was delaying its current account plans. With M&S steaming ahead, they have beaten a major competitor to market. This can only be good for M&S, HSBC, consumers
and the industry as a whole.