Marks & Spencer to launch flagship store in Beijing

Updated: 2015-10-10 09:05


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Marks & Spencer to launch flagship store in Beijing

Customers shop for clothes in a Marks & Spencer store in Brussels, Belgium. [Photo/Agencies]

British retailer Marks & Spencer Plc is setting up a new flagship store in Beijing this winter to further expand its presence in China.

The store, expected to be located at The Place, a leading shopping mall in the capital, will spread over more than 1,500 square meters and include womenswear, menswear, lingerie and kids wear. The Food Hall will include Marks & Spencer's unrivaled quality food and wines, as well as an in-store bakery and coffee-to-go station.

"The move is in line with Marks & Spencer's growth plans for its China business and builds on the growing popularity in Beijing for Marks & Spencer products through its online sites on leading Chinese websites like Tmall and JD," the company said in a statement. The British retailer had closed some stores in Shanghai and other neighboring cities earlier this year

Marks & Spencer launched its online store on Tmall in January 2013 offering clothing and food products. This was followed by the launch of its wine e-shop on JD in May 2014.

Earlier this March, Marks & Spencer announced its plan to enter key cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou this year and the next. Plans also include continuous investment in its existing stores on West Nanjing Road in Shanghai during the autumn.

It had closed five of its supporting stores in Shanghai by August and reviewed its head office resource structure in line with growth plans.

The retailer, which opened its first store in the Chinese mainland in 2008, has more than 840 outlets in the United Kingdom and more than 480 in other countries and regions.

Matthew Crabbe, director of research, Asia-Pacific at Mintel Consulting, said M&S has struggled in the past to get its message across, and to establish its brand as a distinct experience for Chinese consumers, despite the good quality of its products.

"The opening of the Beijing store does make sense in that the capital is a good potential market for M&S, given that there are plenty of well-off consumers," said Crabbe. "I like the idea of incorporating an in-store bakery and coffee-to-go station. This gives consumers more of an incentive to venture in, and once in store, for the retailer to grab consumer attention with well-conceived in-store marketing."

Angela Wang, partner and managing director of the Boston Consulting Group, said hardly any foreign department store has survived in China so far due to the difficulties in getting a good location, which matters significantly for the development of the store in a saturating market. But the diversity of the department stores in China is still low, creating room for those who are unique and specialized, she said.

In addition, strong purchasing power of the Chinese middle class is boosting sales of quality food and apparel products, despite the economic slowdown, said Wang.