The HFC (or Household) bank is a funny sort of animal- it has a few branches, but it doesn't have current accounts. HFC bank specialises specifically in lending, and does so through other companies you're more likely to have heard of. So if you have a GM Card, Freeserve card or a Marbles Card, HFC are the people behind it. If you have a credit agreement for a fridge-freezer or computer from Courts, Curry's PC World or Halfords, HFC are the people behind it. They also own Hamilton Direct Bank, which is one of those direct loan companies you can call up to get up to £25,000 cash.
All of this is very clever (for them). I know you won't feel sorry about this, but high street banks don't make much money out of us for our day-to-day banking. After all, when you stay in credit, you usually don't pay anything in charges. So HFC is a clever company- they just don't do day-to-day banking, and are only interested in lending transactions- the sort that will make them real cash. The bigger players soon noticed, and in March 2003 HFC was taken over and is now part of the burgeoning HSBC financial empire.