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M&S mortgages will provide boost to industry

by: Jon Round
  • 03/07/2012
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M&S mortgages will provide boost to industry
The news that Marks & Spencer wants to expand its operations and enter the banking and mortgage market with HSBC will be mixed news to a lot of people in the industry.

But the fact that M&S wants to enter the market is a positive sign that outside organisations see the market as attractive and want to get involved; it is also testament to the fact that margins are good at the moment if you have money to lend.

However for those who are worried about the encroachment of big brands on the mortgage space, it’s worth reflecting that retail brands and banking have traditionally not mixed very well.

As a result, retailers have not been very successful to date. Tesco, for example, has still not given a firm date for its launch.

Therefore it will be interesting to see how M&S Bank’s current account operation goes and whether it does actually launch into mortgages or if it goes the same route as Tesco with a number of postponed launch dates.

At the moment the initial M&S announcement only said that mortgages will be offered by the bank “at a later date” although being backed by HSBC there is no reason to believe that the current account operation won’t actually be followed by a mortgage launch.

The difference, in M&S favour, between them and Tesco is that M&S already has a working relationship with HSBC; M&S also has a brand that people feel an affinity with and an affection for in a way that they don’t with Tesco.

However a mortgage may not be the most logical thing that you think of purchasing along with your M&S underwear.

So whether the availability of mortgages through a High Street retailer, even one as part of our culture as M&S is, has long term potential or whether it will go the way of Tesco Estate Agency and shut again a few months after launch, we will have to wait and see.

Jon Round is chief executive at First Complete

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