M&S and Tesco draw up banking battlelines

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The Independent Online

Marks & Spencer Money which has announced plans to open 50 bank branches within M&S stores will not be offering mortgages, for the time being at least.

The plan was announced last week and it was initially reported that M&S Money would be offering a new current account and mortgage service. But a spokesperson said: "There are no plans to launch a mortgage product now or in the foreseeable, we want to get the current account right before we move into the mortgage arena."

Current accounts will be available from July and will be operational from the autumn. The first branch will open in London's Marble Arch before a nationwide roll-out.

Meanwhile, Tesco, which has long coveted a stronger presence in the banking market is in the final phase of testing a range of mortgages through its extensive bank network, following a series of computer problems.

The retail giant, which drew shareholder criticism for its recent performance, will move into current accounts, perhaps as early as 2013. A senior Tesco source said: "We anticipate that via our large customer base we will grab a much bigger slice of the marketplace than M&S. Mortgages will be key to this."

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