Tesco has signalled its intention to capitalise on public distrust of banks with an aggressive expansion into financial services.

Speaking at the announcement of the retailer’s full year results, Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy, said: "There will not be a better time to increase our commitment to financial services, customers are looking for a better deal.”

Tesco has offered savings accounts and credit cards for a number of years but is planning to broaden its range of financial products to exploit the crisis engulfing the banking sector. It is planning to open 30 bank branches in its stores this year and aims to start offering current accounts to customers within 18 months. It may also move into the mortgage market in the longer term.

Leahy said the banking crisis had helped the supermarket in the recruitment market.

“We have had a complete pick of people from the financial services sector,” said Leahy. “If you were starting up in ordinary times they would have been either really expensive to attract or not possible to get.”