High Street retailer Marks and Spencer has announced this week that in addition to their over the counter foreign exchange service, the company is also set to open bank branches in stores across the country. According to the report the first branch will open in July at the brand’s flagship store in Marble Arch, London.

Senior executives at Marks and Spencer expect to open 50 M&S Bank branches in stores over the next two years and also intend to start offering customers a new current account system, as well as potentially dipping their toes into the mortgage market. The retailer expects the new expansion of M&S to create 500 jobs by 2013 and will be backed by the global banking group HSBC.

Colin Kersley the chief executive of M&S Bank suggested that this new service was just a natural ‘evolution’ for the brand, which has been offering financial services and products since 1985. The company announced that M&S will continue to operate telephone banking and online services through M&S Money, but the new branches would provide customers with a face-to-face service.

M&S Money which was bought by HSBC in 2004 already has a portfolio containing three million customers and has a deposit balance sheet of £3.2bn. In recent years other retailers, High Street stores and supermarkets have also diversified into financial products, the largest of which is currently operated by Tesco.

Consumers will be able to apply for an M&S current account in July, but the CE of the bank suggested that the operation would have to be up and running smoothly, before the retailer jumped into the mortgage market. The new bank already has the backing of the FSA and the new in-store branches will be operated by HSBC as part of a joint venture.

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