Marks & Spencer to slow China expansion

UK department store chain Marks & Spencer says it will slow its expansion plans in Greater China due to the economic and political turmoil in the two markets.

The British retailer currently has 20 stores in Hong Kong and 10 in China and had been planning significantly more.

Back in 2014, CEO Marc Bolland set a target of opening 250 new overseas stores within three years – an ambitious goal even in favourable economic climate.

This week, M&S’s executive director of marketing & international Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne told news agency Reuters in an interview that while the company remained committed to both markets, the 2014 targets were unreachable.

“The world has shifted, is a different place… The Syrian situation was very different from what it is today… Putin had not invaded Ukraine and China was growing at close to nine per cent,” he said.

“It’s reasonable in that context that you would expect a different outlook on the next three years for the company.”

Last March M&S said it would close five underperforming stores in China to focus on flagship stores and online – and expanding its food offer in Hong Kong.

He told Reuters M&S still planned a Beijing flagship store during the 2015-16 financial year and that it still planned to open in the cities of Guangzhou and Dalian, but gave no timetable.

He said the company had seen a softening in its store sales in China as the economy slowed, but no dramatic effect.

“The sectors in which we trade are not luxury, so we haven’t seen the same dramatic slowdown as some might have,” Bousquet-Chavanne said.


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