New Zealand’s largest supermarket operator Foodstuffs has announced it is to offer banking services to customers next year.

The company, which controls 55% of New Zealand’s supermarkets, has stuck a deal with Australia’s fifth-largest bank, St George, to offer the service. Costs and profits are to be shared equally between the two companies.

The bank said the move was a logical step in its organic growth strategy and that similar ventures in the UK had been successful.

Foodstuffs said that the participation of a supermarket group in the promotion and distribution of financial products to its customers through a joint venture was a first in New Zealand.

The venture will see the introduction of Internet and telephone banking initially, with support from the 478 Foodstuffs stores, reported AP.

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