Marks & Spencer has opened talks with one of its franchise partners, Al-Futtaim, to franchise the retailer’s owned retail business in Hong Kong and Macau.
The deal would mean Al-Futtaim would become the new sole franchisee for M&S in Hong Kong and Macau.
Al-Futtaim has worked with M&S since 1998 when it opened the first M&S store in Dubai. Today, it operates 43 M&S stores across seven markets in the Middle East, as well as in Singapore and Malaysia.
The talks follow M&S’s strategic review of its international business in November, after which the retailer said it wanted more franchise and joint venture partnerships and to operate with fewer wholly-owned markets.
M&S said the 27-strong store business in Hong Kong is profitable.
The firm said the talks could take several months to complete and M&S stores in Hong Kong and Macau will continue to trade as normal.
Paul Friston, Marks & Spencer’s international director, said: “In November we set out our plans to create a more sustainable, profitable and customer-centric international business for M&S by focussing on our established partnerships. Al-Futtaim is a key partner to M&S in Asia and the Middle East and we are both committed to putting the customer at the heart of everything we do. With significant scale and retail expertise in the region, we are looking forward to discussing the potential extension of our partnership to Hong Kong and Macau as we continue to grow and develop our business together.”
Stephen Rayfield, senior managing director of the fashion and lifestyle division at Al-Futtaim, added: “M&S and Al-Futtaim share values, and an approach that focuses the customer at the heart of our businesses.”