M&S bids to be ‘trusted’ bank

Marks & Spencer has unveiled details of a major expansion of its financial services business as it looks use its “trusted brand” to create an “alternative choice” to the UK’s high street banking giants still suffering from perception problems in the wake of the financial crisis.

Marks Spencer

The clothing and food chain plans to open 50 in-store banking branches in the UK over the next two years under the new M&S Bank brand, starting with its flagship Marble Arch store in London next month. It will add current accounts to the M&S Money branded credit cards, loans and savings products already offered from autumn 2012. M&S Money products will be rebranded M&S Bank later this year.

Opening hours will mirror those of branches, “twice as long as traditional high street banks”, the company claims.

M&S chief executive Marc Bolland says M&S Bank, which is owned by banking behemoth HSBC but will operate as a profit-sharing joint venture, offers consumers an alternative to the traditional banks.

“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,” he adds.

M&S is the latest to try and exploit what many claim is a lack of trust in the financial services sector following the 2008 crisis that led to the bail-out of Lloyds Banking Group and RBS. Metro Bank launched in 2010 with a promise to engender “love for your bank” among consumers, while Virgin Money expanded its operations in November with the acquisition of 75 Northern Rock branches.

M&S Money was launched in 1985. It was bought by HSBC in 2004.

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