M&S 'plans international expansion'


High street retailer Marks and Spencer (M&S) is contemplating opening around 150 new stores overseas, the Guardian newspaper reports.

The paper, which does not quote sources, claims that the international expansion programme will see M&S open a new overseas store every week for the next three years.

It is alleged that the majority of the new outlets will be operated as franchises, with the total number of M&S' international stores rising to over 350.

The British retailer currently operates stores in 29 countries and Hong Kong, with the Guardian claiming that locations for new outlets include Russia and India, where the company's franchise operations are handled by the privately-owned firm Planet Retail.

Announcing M&S' annual profits in May, group chief executive Stuart Rose indicated that the retailer had plans to open just 25 to 30 new overseas stores.

Last month Mr Rose also described the decision by former M&S chairman Luc Vandevelde to close the company's 38 stores in continental Europe, due to financial difficulties, as an "unfortunate reversal" and "a mistake".

M&S refused to comment on claims about the scale of its plans to increase its international business, but confirmed that new stores would be opening in Ukraine, the Baltic states and Bulgaria over the summer.

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