Starting July 2012, UK retailer Marks & Spencer will launch M&S Bank, a set of full bank branches to be housed in select Marks & Spencer stores across the country. A joint venture with HSBC, the M&S Bank is an initiative to replace the retailer's current financial services arm M&S Money, which currently offers its customers the Marks & Spencer credit card.

Marks & Spencer plans to open 50 M&S Bank branches in the next two years. Following the retailer's store hours, the bank branches will allow customers to conveniently bank seven days a week while they shop. They will also receive 24-hour access to the M&S Bank online services and call centers. Along with the personal loans, car insurance and credit cards currently offered by M&S Money, the M&S Bank initiative will provide mortgages and current accounts.

One can't help but wonder whether such a move is a reaction to the implementation of banking services by other UK retailers, such as Tesco and Sainsbury's. However, M&S Bank's chief executive Colin Kersley claims, "We're not trying to compete with the big guys; we're trying to look after M&S customers."