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Marks & Spencer Bets on Asia Food Sales to Revive Group

June 13, 2014

Marks & Spencer Group Plc. (MKS), the largest U.K. clothing retailer, plans to accelerate expansion in Asia to boost sales and offset sluggish growth at home.

The grocer and general retailer intends to add at least 30 stores in the region this year, Bruce Findlay, the London-based company’s Asia chief, said in an interview today. The London-based retailer grew by 22 stores in Asia last year.

Marks & Spencer is seeking overseas growth after a 2.3 billion-pound ($3.8 billion) three-year effort to improve stores, garment designs and online sales failed to revive profit. The retailer is boosting its efforts in Asia, including China, where it faces competition from Tesco Plc., which formed a partnership in 2013 with China Resources Enterprise Ltd. (291) to combine hypermarket operations in the country.

Marks & Spencer plans to add 2 stores in Macau, China, this year and is considering expansion into Japan, Australia, Taiwan and Vietnam, Findlay said in Hong Kong. The retailer has more than 140 stores across Asia including China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.

Overseas sales accounted for 11 percent of the total for the 12 months ended in March. Sales from outside the U.K. at more than twice the pace of domestic revenue over the past five quarters, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Tesco last year agreed to merge its more than 130 mainland stores with the China Resources retail-focused conglomerate. The U.K. company will pay HK$4.33 billion for 20 percent of the venture, with the state-backed enterprise owning the rest.

Findlay joined Marks & Spencer in September following a revamp of the company’s top team. He previously worked for clothing retailers including Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Gap Inc. (GPS:US)

To contact the reporter on this story: Vinicy Chan in Hong Kong at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephanie Wong at Dave McCombs

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