Newspaper reports at the week-end said Marks & Spencer is on the verge of entering the credit card market with a dual credit and loyalty card.

The company launched a pilot scheme in nine Welsh stores in October the Mail on Sunday said, and is expected to make an announcement about its national roll-out in May. If it chooses to go ahead with the nationwide credit card launch M&S will become one of the biggest issuers in Britain and could double its profits from financial services within four years.

Under the new scheme, shoppers would receive one loyalty point for every pound they spend using the cards in M&S, and half a loyalty point for every pound spent on the cards outside the store. The points can then be converted into M&S vouchers, which are sent to cardholders.

M&S currently has around five million store card holders, 3.5 million of whom use their card on a regular basis.