M&S intends to open 250 new stores by 2017

M&S intends to open 250 new stores by 2017

Marks & Spencer's international division is set to deliver "robust incremental growth", analysts believe, after the UK retailer unveiled plans to open 250 new stores over the next three years.

The plans, which also include increasing its franchise operations, were revealed at an investor seminar in Paris yesterday (1 April).

M&S said it will concentrate on growing international revenues by 25% and overseas profits by 40% with the help of its franchise partner Al-Futtaim.

This will be achieved by growing its presence in existing markets and drive business in its priority markets of India, China, Russia, the Middle East and Western Europe.

A further future opportunity will be exploited through the expansion of its new lingerie and beauty concepts in the Middle East and India, M&S said. The first of its type opened last month in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

"Our strategy of becoming an international, multi-channel retailer is more relevant than ever before because of the strong growth potential of international markets," said chief executive Marc Bolland.

Commenting on the expansion plans, Shore Capital analyst Darren Shirley said: "M&S has most certainly developed its capability and performance in international markets over the past three years."

He said he sees potential in the lingerie and beauty stores, adding: "As such, the international division appears well set to deliver robust incremental growth and see the scope for management's expectations to be exceeded."

However, Shirley returned to the more material matter of the retailer's core offer, and reiterated that "self-improvement and progression of ladies' apparel in the UK is central to the M&S investment case".