Shropshire-based wholesale brokers Millennium Insurance is set to massively expand into the retail market after joining forces with the Scottish mini bank Cheque Centre.

Millennium Insurance plans to open 50 insurance shops in the year by utilising Cheque Centre's 26 current shops in Scotland and the 24 further shops which the Scottish mini bank plans to open in the north of England during the year.

The two companies plan to open 150 new shops across the UK in the next three years.

Millennium Insurance, which is predominately a wholesale broker, sees this collaboration as an opportunity to launch itself in the retail market. But the operation will be tele-based. A hotline in each Cheque Centre will allow customers to receive an on the spot quote from Millennium's telesales force.

It will provide customers with a wide range of personal household and motor insurance for high street customers.

But Millennium will be prepared to accept other quotes for other forms of risks including commercial lines.

Most of the risk will be underwriten will by Lloyd's syndicates.

Chief executive Ben Fish said: "Our insurance service will help Cheque Centres' shops become retail insurance centres for household, motor and many other products, and gives us a very significant presence in the marketplace.

"We have resisted moves in the past to enter into retailing but we believe the conditions in the insurance market at the moment are right to enable us to take this step with confidence."

He added the company also plans to sell insurance over the internet and hopes to launch its own website for interactive insurance sales within six months.

Cheque Centre provides cheque clearing facilities for people who do not have an account or cannot wait for the bank clearing process, a salary advance facility, instant share cashing, foreign currency exchange and small unsecured no credit search loans.

The joint venture coincides with the fourth anniversary of the launch of Millennium during which time the company has rapidly expanded. It recently recruited a team of 32 sales consultants.

The first insurance outlet is due to be opened in Edinburgh in May.