Marks & Spencer has revealed that it will offer mortgages through its new banking venture, M&S Bank, but says it has no planned launch date.
Over the next two years, 50 M&S Bank branches will open in its stores across the UK, with the first scheduled for July at its flagship Marble Arch branch.
M&S already operates a financial services arm under the trading name M&S Money, which is owned by HSBC.
A current account will be made available from this autumn and customers can pre-register their interest in July.
A spokeswoman for M&S says that it has no planned launch date for mortgages and it will be working on its current account proposition before it thinks about its mortgage offering.
M&S Money was bought by HSBC in November 2004, with the operation being run by the bank and the retailer as a joint venture.
The financial services arm already has authorisation from the Financial Services Authority.
Marc Bolland, chief executive of M&S, says: “M&S is one of the most trusted brands on the high street and we have achieved this by listening and responding to the needs of our 21 million customers.
“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.”
Andrew Charles, mortgage broker at ACC Associates, says the news can be seen in both a positive and negative light, and it could be that the bank will not meet the needs of many of the customers who enquire about a mortgage.
He says: “When people go and see M&S about a mortgage, many will find themselves in a position where they need to speak to someone who can provide a deal based on their own individual circumstances and they’ll end up turning to brokers.
“This happens with direct lenders at the moment, despite brokers being given inferior products in many cases.”
However, on the negative side, he says that if the retailer offers good deals, it could mean less business for brokers.