Marks & Spencer will open 50 more international stores after forming a joint venture with its franchise partner in Greece.
M&S has bought a 50% stake in Marks & Spencer Marinopoulos BV, which operates 38 M&S stores in Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and Switzerland, for €50 million (£38m).
As part of the joint venture, it will open up to 50 stores in these markets over the next few years.
The deal is part of the retailer’s plans to invest in existing franchise partners to speed up international expansion and increase operating efficiency. It aims to grow its international business from 7% of group revenue to between 15% and 20% in the next five years.
Director of international business Carl Leaver said the acquisition was part of a strategy to invest directly into M&S’s retail expansion overseas. He added that a joint venture in India, where the company already has franchise stores, was possible and that M&S also intended to expand in China.
He said: “Our joint venture with Marinopoulos will mean we can really put M&S on the map in this part of the world. In Greece, we already have a solid platform and there is a growing demand for M&S product in markets such as Romania and Bulgaria."