Marks & Spencer to charge for current account
LONDON (Reuters) - Retailer Marks & Spencer will break ranks from the traditional high street banks by charging monthly fees for current accounts at its new bank, the company said on Wednesday.
Though many banks offer fee-charging current accounts, M&S (MKS.L) will stand out in not offering a free alternative. The 128-year-old company said it would offer a premium current account for 15 pounds a month and one including insurance for 20 pounds a month.
M&S customers will, however, have access to a 100-pound interest-free overdraft, a high-rate savings account and "treats and delights all year round", including 127 pounds of M&S Cafe hot drinks vouchers.
The bellwether retailer is hoping to lure customers who have become disenchanted with Britain's biggest banks since the financial crisis blew up in 2008, with public anger exacerbated by bankers' multimillion-pound bonuses and the continuing scandal over manipulation of the benchmark Libor interest rate.
"M&S are trying to anticipate what the new world might look like in terms of cleaning up the industry so that products are more transparent," said Shore Capital analyst Gary Greenwood. "They are saying: here is a transparent product, but you do have to pay for it."
M&S, which serves about 21 million customers a week, plans to open 50 M&S Bank branches in its stores across Britain over the next two years. The first will open in its flagship Marble Arch store in London this month.
The group, which announced plans to launch in-store banking services "built on M&S values" last month, is partnered by HSBC (HSBA.L) in the venture.
On Monday a U.S. Senate panel released a 400-page report detailing how HSBC acted as a financier to clients routing shadowy funds from the world's most dangerous corners, including Mexico, Iran and Syria.
Last week M&S shook up its management team after posting its biggest quarterly sales drop for years.
(Editing by David Goodman)
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