Marks & Spencer is about to shake up the financial services industry by opening banking facilities in its branches, which will offer first bank accounts and then mortgages.
The first will open next month in the Marks & Spencer branch at Marble Arch, London. A further 20 bank branches are planned. All will be open at weekends and operate the same hours as the shops.
The company already has a financial services brand, M & S Money, a joint venture with HSBC, which made a £50m profit last year.
It currently offers savings accounts, general insurance, personal loans, foreign exchange, and credit cards.
Tesco’s much-delayed launch into the mortgage market is still expected this year, after being hit by technology problems.
Marc Bolland, chief executive at Marks & Spencer, said: "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."
Chief executive of the new M & S Bank will be Colin Kersley, and the venture will create around 500 jobs. Kersley said: "We know loyal M&S customers will be genuinely excited by the prospect of banking with their favourite retailer. With over 25 years financial services experience, M&S Bank is the natural next step for M&S Money and will provide customers with a credible, alternative choice in the banking sector."