M&S puts stamp on Beijing

Updated: 2015-12-19 11:13

By Wang Zhuoqiong(China Daily)

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M&S puts stamp on Beijing

Marks & Spencer Plc, the British clothing and food retailer, opened its first flagship store in Beijing on Dec 18, 2015.[Photo/China Daily]

British retailer opens 1,500 sq m premium in city center store

Marks & Spencer Plc, the British clothing and food retailer, opened its first flagship store in Beijing on Friday as part of its strategy to increase its presence in large cities in China.

The 131-year-old high street retailer has 10 outlets in China.

The new 1,500 square meter store located at The Place, in the heart of Beijing's shopping district, has features of a premium boutique shopping environment, including womenswear, menswear, lingerie and kidswear and a food hall. The food hall stocks more than 1,200 types of imported food and wines.

Decorated with bright lights, festival trees and a large mirror, the store also has a more vibrant hue than its counterparts in Shanghai and other cities. The various sections or zones are divided on the basis of themes and colors, making it easy for customers to shop. The store has an in-store bakery which sells freshly baked breads and pastries including sesame seed bagels, cranberry and pecan batons, wholemeal farmhouse loaves and Bakewell tarts. The coffee-to-go station will offer a wide range of tea and coffee served by specially trained baristas.

Costas Antimissaris, Marks & Spencer's international director, said: "Beijing is an exciting market for Marks & Spencer as we have already seen strong demand for our quality products online."

The boutique store concept was first introduced in Brussels in May this year, he said, adding that the store in Beijing is the first to adopt the concept on the Chinese mainland.

Antimissaris said the company wants to explore more opportunities in big cities in China but did not give details about locations. Instead he stressed the need to maintain a balance between online and offline operations.

M&S wants to be known for its high quality and a wide range of products. Its target customers are middle and upper middle class Chinese families, said Antimissaris.

Marks & Spencer's China Manager Maria Rodal said that in the clothing segment the company keeps updating collections regularly to impart the contemporary trends without compromising on quality.

The retailer has also enhanced its clothing collections with suggestions and designs from its London design team. Rodal said M&S's lingerie section including the popular Rosie for Autograph collection, designed by international supermodel and actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley are in demand.

The retailer also has an online presence on Tmall.com and JD.com. Marks & Spencer opened its first bricks-and-mortar store in 2008.

Retail industry particularly department stores and hypermarkets have suffered from slower growth in recent years in China. Jason Yu, general manager of Kantar Worldpanel, said the business model has not changed fundamentally for M&S in China. He said it will be a challenge for M&S to succeed in the China market, given that middle class consumers favor fast fashion brands which are trendy in design and agile in marketing engagement.