Marks & Spencer bank rumours growing
Rumours are growing that Marks & Spencer is planning to open its own chain of bank branches within its stores.
The branches would be likely to keep the same opening hours as the stores, offering banking services at the weekend.
The first branch is expected to open next month, at the retailer’s Marble Arch store in London, according to Retail Week magazine.
Twenty more branches could follow, Retail Week said, as part of a tie-up with HSBC.
Marks & Spencer operates 730 stores across the UK, offering plenty of scope to expand the banking service if it proves successful.
Public confidence in the banking sector has plummeted since the credit crunch and consumers could be attracted to an M&S bank by the retailer’s reputation as a trusted High Street brand.
The retailer has already expanded into the financial sector through its M&S Money joint venture with HSBC.
While M&S Money recorded a profit of £50m last year, profits across all M&S operations fell by 16 per cent compared with 2010, to £658m, due to the difficult trading environment.
M&S Money offers a range of services including credit cards, travel money, personal loans, car insurance and savings accounts.
It is rumoured that the retailer plans to offer mortgages as part of its banking expansion.
Marks and Spencer’s 2011 profits fall was its first for three years.
At the time the retailer said it planned to reduce investment in its UK stores by £200m.
In the face of worsening trading conditions in the UK, it also reduced its sales targets.
In November 2010 is said it expected £658m sales growth between £1.5 billion and £2.5 billion by November 2013.
After revealing its 2011 results the sales growth target was reduced to between £1.1 billion and £1.7 billion.