M: socks, sandwiches and… mortgages

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M: socks, sandwiches and… mortgages

14 June 2012

Marks & Spencer has just announced that they are adding to their financial services arm with a new proposition offering bank accounts and mortgages in a joint venture with HSBC.

They already offer facilities such credit cards, loans, savings accounts, general insurance and foreign exchange under the brand M&S Money, so the switch into mainstream banking will be seen by many as a natural progression.

The first M&S Bank will open in Marble Arch branch in London with plans for 50 branches to open within two years, the move into banking is expected to create around 500 new jobs.

Bank branches will operate seven days a week during store opening hours, providing M&S Bank with a competitive edge over traditional high street banks who only operate between 9am-5pm weekdays and limited times and locations on Saturdays.

Retailers moving into banking is not a new phenomenon, with Tesco’s much anticipated move into the mortgage market besieged by technology problems leading to delays. Another new player in the market is Virgin Money, who recently moved into mainstream banking with their takeover of Northern Rock.

Speaking about the new offering Marc Bolland, Chief Executive of M&S, 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.”

It remains to be seen whether the new M&S Bank will be able to offer it’s customers truly competitive mortgage rates and, as with traditional banks, M&S will offer a limited product range which may not be suitable or accessible due to a customer’s personal circumstances.  

However, there seems to be interesting times ahead for the financial services industry with retailers clearly feeling they have an advantage over traditional banks when it comes to service and trust.

You can almost see the advert now. “This is not just a mortgage – this is an M&S mortgage.”

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