Franchise News:Britain’s largest clothing retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) plans to double its store count in India over the next three years as part of its ongoing strategy to become a leading international, multi-channel retailer in a market that it says is its “top priority.”
The company presently has 36 stores in India and is targeting 80 stores by 2016.
The plans to double its presence in India with its joint venture partner Reliance Retail will see India become M&S’s largest international market outside of the UK in terms of store count.
Marc Bolland, M&S, global chief executive said, “India is a priority market for M&S and working closely together with our partner Reliance Retail we have set a clear plan to build a leadership position here.
“However, Bolland declined on commenting when M&S India would become one of the biggest revenue contributors to global revenues.
The company reported a 28.1 percent jump in sales in India for the first half of 2013-14 financial year ended September 30.
M&S entered India in 2001with local franchise partner Planet Retail, marketing itself as an exclusive, expensive brand. But the partnership failed to produce desired results.
In 2008, M&S joined hands with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Retail to form a 51:49 JV. Bolland said that in mid 2011, India was crowned as M&S’s top priority market, dethroning China. Since then, M&S has realigned its prices to become a mid-market player and has revamped its collection to become a more stylish player for the youth.
The company is now ramping up its basket of offerings for Indian consumers. While officially celebrating its recently opened flagship store in Mumbai’s Bandra this evening – one of its largest in India at 35,000 square feet, spread over five floors – it unveiled its world-first new look Marks & Spencer Lingerie & Beauty department.
Lingerie is one of the highest grossing categories for M&S in the UK, enjoying a market share of 30 percent. The company hopes to replicate this success in India, where the lingerie market is said to be growing 54 percent by 2017, according to data firm Euromonitor.
The second Marks & Spencer Lingerie & Beauty department in India will launch at M&S’s South Extension store in Delhi on 15 November. Based on the success of these two locations, M&S will look at rolling out more shop-in-shop lingerie and beauty stores.
The company is also focusing on secondary markets. The company entered Kochi and Vadodara earlier this year and will now enter Surat and Kanpur. Bolland said, “The strategy for tier two markets is not different from that for tier-I. The idea is to find a prime location that is attractive. These markets, we are confident, will be able to add to the M&S width.
” However, while the company will be looking for large format stores for primary markets – around 10,000-15,000 square feet in size – secondary markets are likely to see smaller stores with a scaled down collection.
M&S’s will also look to further drive local sourcing from India.
Presently, 33 percent of all M&S’s general merchandise products sold around the globe is made in the region, and 64 percent of M&S products sold in India are sourced from local suppliers.
Venu Nair, MD, Marks and Spencer India said that as the business would grow, local sourcing would only increase. However, he refused to spell out how much local sourcing would increase in percentage terms over the next 2-3 years.