Belfast Telegraph

M&S branching out as first bank opens doors

By Vicky Shaw

Marks & Spencer's first bank branch has opened its doors offering seven days a week banking facilities and a pager service meaning customers can carry on with their shopping instead of queuing.

The branch has a more relaxed, feminine appearance than traditional high-street banks, with a fuchsia colour scheme, handbag hooks and fresh flowers in vases designed by Sir Terence Conran, who is also behind the bank's debit cards.

The branch at its flagship Marble Arch store in London is the first of 50 planned to open by the end of 2013, with opening hours mirroring the shops they are sited in.

The Marble Arch store and its bank will regularly open until 11pm while the Olympics takes place. Its more usual hours are from 8am to 9pm from Monday to Saturday and from noon until 6pm on Sundays.

M&S said its banks will offer a pager service, meaning customers will not have to queue for an adviser to become available. Someone who wants an appointment will be given a pager and alerted as soon as a member of staff is free.

The launch of a new player in the market comes as mainstream banks are battling to win back confidence in the wake of the RBS/NatWest IT chaos and Barclays' Libor-fixing scandal.

M&S expects to create 500 UK jobs from the roll-out of the M&S Bank business and will offer mortgages at a later date.

The retailer already provides credit cards, loans and savings to three million customers under M&S Money – a joint venture with HSBC.

</>\[s.rowe\]M&S Money, along with its existing products, will be rebranded to M&S Bank later this year.

The chain hopes to build on its reputation among devoted followers as one of the high street's most trusted brands.

Colin Kersley, chief executive of M&S Bank, said: “Our branches have been designed around the needs of our customers, offering them the style of banking they want, available at times that suit their busy lifestyles.”

People paying in cheques will receive a photocopy of their cheque as well as a receipt to give them “peace of mind” and the new branches will also include internet and telephone banking facilities.

M&S said its research found many of its customers are unsure how to use internet banking, so its staff will be available to help those who are unsure.

The existing M&S bureau de change will be integrated into the banks and it will be spruced up with an LCD screen showing M&S Bank TV.

HSBC, which has been hit by a money laundering scandal in the United States, has described the M&S venture as its most “significant innovation” in UK retail banking since it launched First Direct more than 22 years ago.

M&S Money is wholly owned by HSBC but runs on a 50/50 profit share with Marks & Spencer. Legally, the new bank is structured as a separate entity to HSBC, meaning it has its own registration with the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which compensates people if their bank goes under.

500

The number of UK jobs the firm expects to create by the move

Belfast Telegraph

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