M&S targets region as it takes on the big banks

Marks & Spencer's first bank branch at Marble, London
Marks & Spencer's first bank branch at Marble, London
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MARKS & Spencer has identified Yorkshire as a key area for its new bank branches following the launch of its first current account, which introduces the strapline ‘new fashioned banking’.

M&S is hoping to cash in on the widespread dissatisfaction with traditional banks in the light of Barclays’ Libor-fixing scandal and NatWest’s IT chaos.

M&S has already opened two banks in Pudsey, Leeds and Meadowhall, Sheffield. It is now keen to open other banks in the region.

Colin Kersley, chief executive of M&S Bank, said: “We are pleased to have been able to introduce M&S Bank to Yorkshire this summer with the opening of M&S Bank branches in the Meadowhall and Pudsey M&S stores.

“Yorkshire is a key area for us and we have had some great feedback from our customers in the region.”

M&S plans to open 28 bank branches by the end of the year and it has already opened 13.

Customers are now able to apply for an M&S premium current account, which carries fees of up to £240 a year in return for over £500 worth of annual benefits, including M&S vouchers, hot drinks vouchers for the M&S Cafe, a birthday gift and seasonal products four times a year.

People who sign up will also receive worldwide, multi-trip, family travel insurance.

In a bid to lure customers from traditional lenders, it will also offer customers who switch their account 12 vouchers for 20 per cent off M&S shopping in the first year, which M&S said would be worth up to £600.

Loyalty points will be turned into vouchers and customers will be given an automatic £500 overdraft limit with the first £100 interest-free.

There will be no additional overdraft fees and a free text alert will be sent out if the overdraft limit is approach-ed.

If customers want to make an appointment with the bank, the in-store branch will offer a pager service so customers can carry on shopping or go to the cafe.

They will have access to internet banking and 24/ 7 UK call centres.

The deal also includes access to a high rate savings account with a fixed rate of six per cent.

Mr Kersley said: “Our customers have been pre-registering for the M&S Premium Current Accounts since July, so it’s fantastic that people can now open an account.

“We understand that our customers want to bank at a time that suits them and our branches are open the same hours as M&S stores, including weekends. We’ve been opening branches across the UK over the summer and it’s been great to see such a high level of interest.”

The retailer, which opened its first bank branch in July, has previously said it intends to open a total of 50 bank branches by the end of 2013, with opening hours mirroring the shops in which they are sited.

M&S is also offering its premium account without insurance at £15 a month. This comes with similar rewards and the potential to gain more than £300 worth of annual benefits.

M&S Bank 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.

The move has been hailed as positive for mainstream consumers, and analysts have predicted M&S Bank is likely to target its products at ‘vanilla’ customers, who already have strong credit records.

They have said that as with any paid-for service, customers should consider how much they will benefit from the perks included in the current accounts.