08/06/2012 05:34 BST | Updated 08/06/2012 07:57 BST

Marks And Spencer Announce Plan To Open 50 Bank Branches

Marks & Spencer is to offer current accounts from this autumn after announcing plans to open 50 bank branches in the next two years.

The company, which expects to create 500 UK jobs from the roll-out of the M&S Bank business, said mortgages will be offered at a later date.

It already provides credit cards, loans and savings to more than three million customers under M&S Money, which is run as a joint venture with HSBC.

The first outlet at M&S's Marble Arch store in London is due to open next month and will mirror shop opening hours, meaning seven days a week banking.

M&S chief executive Marc Bolland said the chain will look to build on its reputation as one of the high street's most trusted brands.

He said: "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."

HSBC described the venture as its most "significant innovation" in UK retail banking since it launched First Direct more than 22 years ago.

The launch of a new player in the lending market comes as mainstream banks battle to win back the confidence of customers.

David Black, a banking specialist at financial research company Defaqto, said the retailer's venture "provides another option" for customers at a time when supermarket giant Tesco is also expanding its financial products.

Mr Black said that most of M&S Money's rates on the products it currently offers, such as personal loans, credit cards and savings products, are above average in competitive terms and periodically appear in best buy tables.

M&S Money's product range includes personal loan rates at 6% APR on borrowing between £7,500 and £15,000. Tesco and Sainsbury's also offer similar deals, with 6% rates for loans in this bracket, Moneyfacts said.