UK retailer Marks & Spencer is to move into high street banking with the launch of M&S Bank next month.
Over the next two years, 50 new 'branches' will be opened in M&S stores across the UK, with the first branch scheduled to open in July at Marks & Spencer's flagship Marble Arch store.
Branches will be open twice as long as traditional high street banks; mirroring M&S store opening hours and enabling customers to bank while they shop, seven days a week. The high street presence will be supplemented by 24-hour access to online banking, as well as UK based call centres.
A current account will be made available from autumn 2012 and customers can pre-register their interest in July, mortgages will be offered by the bank at a later date.
Over 3 million customers already use M&S Money products, including credit cards, loans and savings. Research amongst its Premium Club customers revealed that over 70% found the idea of an M&S current account appealing.
M&S Money is a joint venture with HSBC struck in 2004; the profits are split equally.
HSBC will continue its partnership with M&S for the launch of the new bank.
Joe Garner, Head of HSBC in the UK, comments: "This is our most significant innovation in retail banking since we launched First Direct over 22 years ago. It is concrete evidence of HSBC increasing innovation, competition and investment in the UK."
M&S is pitching itself as a credible, alternative choice for UK banking services, extending its trusted brand into a sector beset by a succession of defaults, mis-selling scandals and rows over rich bonus pay-outs.
Marc Bolland, chief executive at Marks & Spencer says: "M&S is one of the most trusted brands on the UK high street and we've achieved this by continually listening and responding to the needs of our 21 million customers. This bank will be built on M&S values; putting the customer at the heart of the proposition and delivering the exceptional service that sets us apart from the competition."
The launch of the new bank is expected to create 500 new UK jobs by the end of 2013. This includes 400 customer-facing roles in branches across the country and around 100 roles at the company's Chester based head office.
Each branch will be managed by a dedicated M&S Bank team and will feature private meeting areas, self service banking points, as well as a bureau de change.