M&S to test French appetite for its brand
Marks & Spencer is returning to France towards the end of the year with a store in Paris, a transactional website, and plans to open Simply Food stores with a franchise partner.
M&S: returning to France after a 10-year absence
The retailer closed all its stores in Paris in 2001, when it pulled out of the European market in a bid to turn around its UK operation.
Despite its long absence, the company cited independent research that showed more than 70% of French consumers were aware of the Marks & Spencer brand in November 2010.
The company is opening a store on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées and has registered the web address Marksandspencer.fr to sell goods in euros across the country.
Significantly, the French website is its first international transactional website and will run on a platform developed by the company, rather than on the Amazon platform its UK website uses.
The company's agreement with Amazon lasts until late 2013.
M&S has also hired Milyae Park, Tesco's director of new business for European clothing, as regional director for Europe, having recently poached Tesco's digital director, Laura Wade-Gery, to be its executive director of multi-channel and ecommerce.
A spokesman declined to reveal further details of the company's marketing strategy in France, but said it would be ultimately handled by executive director of marketing Steven Sharp.
Plans to open Simply Food stores in Paris and France depend on the outcome of talks with SSP, an established UK franchise partner. M&S described the talks as "advanced" and said it was looking for suitable sites around Paris.
The focus on international expansion was set out by chief executive Marc Bolland in November.
M&S operates in 42 territories, with wholly owned stores in Ireland, Hong Kong and China, in addition to joint venture and franchise stores around the world.
This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.uk
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