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    New Zealand's No. 1 Grocer to Offer Banking Services

    WELLINGTON, New Zealand - New Zealand's largest supermarket operator, Foodstuffs, said Wednesday it will offer its customers banking services at its supermarkets starting next year,

    WELLINGTON, New Zealand - New Zealand's largest supermarket operator, Foodstuffs, said Wednesday it will offer its customers banking services at its supermarkets starting next year, The Associated Press reports. The retailer cut a deal with Australia's fifth largest bank, St. George, to offer the banking services.

    Foodstuffs' managing director Tony Carter said it was the first time in the country a supermarket group has participated directly in promoting and distributing financial products to its customers through a joint venture. Similar approaches have proved successful in the United Kingdom, he noted.

    All costs and profits from the new banking operations will be shared equally between St. George and Foodstuffs, the bank said.

    "Teaming up with New Zealand's premier supermarket retailer offers St. George a low cost, low risk entry into a new market ... and is a logical step in our organic growth strategy," St. George managing director Gail Kelly said in a statement.

    The alliance initially plans to introduce Internet and telephone banking, with support from Foodstuffs' network of 478 stores nationwide. Foodstuffs currently controls 55 percent of New Zealand's supermarkets.

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