British high street retailer M&S announces return to France
British high street chain Marks & Spencer revealed on Friday that it will return to France later this year, after withdrawing from the country ten years ago.
"Marks & Spencer today announces that it will return to France towards the end of this year with a combined e-commerce and retail 'bricks & clicks' strategy," the group said in a statement.
The prestigious company, which is regarded as a barometer of consumer sentiment in Britain, will open a new store on the Champs-Elysees in central Paris towards the end of 2011. The branch will sell womenswear and food items.
M&S added it was in advanced talks with British travel concession company SSP to open a "number" of its smaller Simply Food stores at locations in and around Paris. The firm added it was looking at a "limited number" of other locations to sell a larger selection of clothing and food.
In addition, the retailer will launch a new French website that will trade in euros and serve customers across the country.
Back in 2001, M&S had announced its exit from continental Europe with the closure of 38 stores -- including 18 regular branches in France which had employed 1,700 people.
"Marks & Spencer has great brand awareness here in France and a place in customers' hearts," said Chief Executive Marc Bolland, speaking from Paris.
"We're very excited to be returning with an e-commerce and retail offer to delight customers with our full range of clothing and home products, and the exceptional food from our Paris store."
The group added that the French website and Champs-Elysees store were scheduled to open ahead of this year's crucial peak-time Christmas trading period.
© 2011 AFP