More M&S Banks

M&S have announced that they are going to open 28 bank branches by the end of the year, including ones in Milton Keynes and London Colney near St Albans, Hertfordshire.

The retail chain have already announced plans to open 12 banks in stores across the UK. Their first current accounts went live on Wednesday 26 September 2012.

New bank branches have also been announced for Braehead, Renfrewshire; Oxford; Merry Hill, Dudley; Cheshire Oaks, Cheshire; Camberley, Surrey; Norwich; White City, London; Exeter; Shoreham, Kent; and Lisburn, Belfast.

This is on top of bank branches already planned for: Handforth, Cheshire; Bromley, Kent; Glasgow; Sheffield; Leeds; Aberdeen; Edinburgh; Manchester; Cardiff; Bristol; Birmingham, Warrington, Gateshead, Southampton and the Bluewater Shopping Centre, Kent.

Marks and Spencer opened their first bank branch in London in July, offering seven days a week banking facilities and a pager service meaning customers can carry on with their shopping instead of queuing.

The launch of a new player in the market came as mainstream banks have been battling to win back confidence in the wake of incidents such as NatWest's IT chaos and Barclays' Libor-fixing scandal.

M&S has previously confirmed that 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.

Customers have been able to pre-register for the new M&S current accounts since July.

A spokeswoman for M&S Bank declined to give any figures for the level of interest during pre-registration, but said the accounts have been "well-received''.

For £20 a month, the premium current account with insurance promises customers more than £500-worth of annual benefits such as M&S vouchers, travel insurance and loyalty points on debit card purchases. Customers will also be given access to a savings account with a fixed rate of 6%.

The M&S premium account without insurance costs £15 a month and comes with similar banking and 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.

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