UK department store Marks & Spencer (M&S) will close five stores in Shanghai.
But the company says it remains committed to China as a market and will still proceed with opening new stores in Beijing and Guangzhou between now and the end of 2016.
“As announced in April 2014, Marks & Spencer has reviewed the shape of its existing store portfolio to ensure its best aligned with its strategic growth plans,” the company said in a statement.
“As a result, Marks & Spencer has taken the decision to close five of its supporting stores in the greater Shanghai region by August 2015. It has also reviewed its head office resource structure in line with growth plans.”
M&S Changzhou Wanda Plaza, Changzhou and M&S Wuxi Jiangyin Wanda Plaza, Wuxi, will close next Monday, March 9. M&S Jiangqiao Wanda Plaza, Jiading, M&S Wenzhou, and M&S Changzhou InJoy City, Changzhou will close between March and August this year.
Meanwhile, M&S China will continue with plans to modernise its flagship store on Shanghai’s West Nanjing Rd during the coming autumn.
The company will also beef up its eCommerce business in China to strengthen its brand awareness and reach across the country.
“Following the popularity of our online stores on China’s leading websites, which during the last quarter saw sales on TMall.com increase by 200 per cent over last year, Marks & Spencer launched a new dedicated kidswear store on TMall.com and a new clothing store on JD.com in January.”
The company said it continues to search for a potential partner in China, as initially heralded back in April 2014.
In Macau, M&S will open a new 1000 sqm store at the Venetian Macau in November, its second in the city. In Hong Kong, it will continue with plans to modernise its stores during the next two calendar years.
“Marks & Spencer will expand its food store portfolio at convenient travel and city locations in Hong Kong during 2015-16. Since our update last year, Marks & Spencer has opened three food standalone stores in Hong Kong during 2014-15, which have seen sales per square foot in line with its best performing food stores in the UK.”
Marks & Spencer opened its first Hong Kong store at the Ocean Centre shopping mall in May 1988 and now has 18 wholly-owned stores in Hong Kong. It opened its first Marks & Spencer Food store in Wanchai, Hong Kong, in 2010.
Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, Marks & Spencer’s executive director, marketing & international, set a positive tone to the announcement despite the revelation of store closures: “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.”
The British retailer entered China in 2008.