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Marks & Spencer poised to enter Australian market

10 Feb 2014

British department store group Marks & Spencer is reportedly speeding

up plans to step into the Australian market, which is part of the group's Chief Executive Officer Marc Bolland's strategy to turn M&S into an international multi-channel retailer.

M&S was previously thought to be looking for potential retail locations in Sydney, with sources naming a 44 million pound redevelopment site on George Street as one of the possible areas. Now it appears to be that the company has appointed two new directors to a corporate vehicle known as Marks & Spencer (Australia) Pty Ltd, which was unused for nearly seven years and is searching for additional retail locations according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Last December, M&S reported to the corporate regulator that two directors had been named in to the division Marks & Spencer (Australia ) Pty Ltd, one a Melissa Lovell, who is a corporate lawyer at oil and gas firm Santos and the other a Anthony Clarke, assistant company secretary of the M&S Group company in the UK. Industry insiders see this move as a step forward into entering the Australian market.

Although M&S currently had 766 stores throughout the UK and runs 418 stores in a number of European and Asian countries, the department store group is thought to be preparing to enter the Australian market on a somewhat smaller scale.

In cities such as Singapore and Hong Kong, M&S operates out a of small retail scheme, focusing on fashion, beauty and premium food sales. So far this retail scheme has been working well in these markets and now it speculated that M&S will apply the same small scale scheme in Australia, instead of opening up larger department stores to compete with established stores such as David Jones and Myer.

Similar to its stores in Hong Kong and Singapore, the small M&S stores will most likely be around 2,000 square meters and have fashion and beauty product assortment take up 80 percent of the retail space, with the remaining space going to luxury food offering, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

By creating stand-alone stores, M&S can establish a solid brand presence and build it up with its multi-channel strategy, while competing with other fashion retailers such as H&M and Uniqlo, which are poised to enter the Australian market this year.

Marc Bolland