Despite a rocky start to the move into China almost seven years ago, Marks & Spencer has today provided an update on growth plans for its China business. In line with prior announcements, the retailer established its “firm intent” to enter key cities in Greater China including Beijing and Guangzhou from 2015/16.
M&S, which is emblematic of British commerce, has reviewed its existing store portfolio and will close five stores in the greater Shangai region (by August) as a result. In line with growth plans, the company will also reshape its head office structure. Employees of these stores and the supporting head office functions will, according to a statement issued by the company, “be fully supported during this process”.
Continuing its ‘bricks & clicks’ strategy, Marks & Spencer is leveraging e-commerce to strengthen brand awareness and reach across the country. Following the popularity of its online stores on China’s leading websites, which during the last quarter saw its sales on TMall.com increase by 200% on last year, Marks & Spencer launched a new dedicated kidswear store on TMall.com, and a new clothing store on JD.com in January.
In line with its international strategy to focus on its flagship stores, Marks & Spencer will also invest in modernising its stores in Hong Kong during 2015/16 and will also expand its Food store portfolio at convenient travel and city locations in Hong Kong during the same period. Since its update last year, M&S has opened three Food standalone stores in Hong Kong during the past 14 months, which have seen sales per square foot in line with its best performing Food stores in the UK
Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, Marks & Spencer’s Executive Director, Marketing & International, said:
“Last year, we reaffirmed our commitment to our Greater Chinese business and set out clear strategic plans. Today we can share more details of our continued investment across our priority markets of China, Hong Kong and Macau. This includes the modernisation of our flagship stores, entering new key cities, growing our Hong Kong Food store portfolio and expanding our reach across China through new sites on TMall.com and JD.com.”
Established in 1884, Marks & Spencer currently has over 840 UK stores and over 480 international stores across 59 territories in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.