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Russian crisis forces M&S to pull out of five countries

Marks & Spencer is planning to close 12 stores and pull out of five countries in eastern Europe as tensions between the west and Russia intensify.

Under the review the retailer will exit Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro and shut a dozen stores by May 2016. The closures will begin in January and staff have been informed.

The withdrawal is part of an overhaul of the M&S’s international strategy and will be a blow to its plans to open 250 stores overseas by 2017.

Last month M&S’ marketing and international director Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, said this timeframe was now unrealistic.

“The world has shifted. The Syrian situation was very different from what it is today. Putin had not invaded Ukraine and China was growing at close to 9%. It’s reasonable in that context that you would expect a different outlook on the next three years for the company.”

M&S said: “We continue to closely manage our international business and take decisive actions as necessary to ensure our store portfolio is fit for the future of M&S.”

The retailer added that the change would “enable [it] to firmly focus on other successful businesses in eastern Europe, including Poland, Hungary and Romania”.

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