Marks & Spencer has revealed plans to ramp up its business in China by entering key cities including Beijing and Guangzhou in 2015, on the same day as it emerged regional director for Asia Bruce Findlay is to depart.
Findlay, who took responsibility for Asia in September 2013, is likely to leave M&S within the next two months and is understood to be joining Diesel.
As part of a wider restructure of the M&S Asia head office team, he will not be directly replaced and instead the country managers for India and China will report into director of international Costas Antimissaris.
An M&S spokeswoman said: “Bruce is leaving the business to pursue a new role outside of M&S. We wish him well and thank him for his contribution to our International business.”
As announced in April 2014, M&S has reviewed the shape of its store portfolio in China. Today it confirmed plans to close five of its supporting stores in the greater Shanghai region by August 2015. It is also scaling back its head office staff in China, with a total of 60 job losses out of around 600 expected.
M&S Changzhou Wanda Plaza, Changzhou and M&S Wuxi JiangyinWanda Plaza, Wuxi, will close on March 9. M&S Jiangqiao Wanda Plaza, Jiading, M&S Wenzhou, and M&S Changzhou InJoy City, Changzhou will close between March and August 2015. The retailer said employees of these stores and the supporting head office functions will be fully supported during this process.
It will continue to invest in its flagship store portfolio, however, by revamping its flagship store on West Nanjing Road in Shanghai this autumn.
M&S will also grow its presence in Macau with the opening of a new store at The Venetian Mall in November.
To build on its online success, M&S launched a new kidswear store on Chinese etail platform TMall and a new online clothing store on JD.com in January. The retailer first launched on TMall in 2012.
Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, Marks & Spencer’s executive director of marketing and 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.”
M&S’s first store opened in China in 2008. The retailer 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.