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Marks & Spencer sells Hong Kong and Macau stores to Al-Futtaim Group

UAE-based conglomerate Al-Futtaim has acquired the retail business of Britain’s Marks & Spencer (M&S) in Hong Kong and Macau. [Photo: Charlotte Ball/PA Wire]

The Al-Futtaim Group has acquired Marks & Spencer’s interests in Hong Kong and Macau, in another move by the UAE based entity to expand its interests outside of the Gulf markets. The transaction with the British apparel and accessories brand was completed on December 30, and with this Al-Futtaim will become the sole M&S franchisee in the two southeast Asian markets.

The sale follows M&S’s strategic review of its international business in November 2016, whereby it proposed to have a “greater focus on its established franchise and joint venture partnerships and operate with fewer wholly-owned markets”, according to a statement.

Just recently, another Al-Futtaim division confirmed plans to launch manufacturing and sales operations in Pakistan for the French automotive brand, Renault.

Al-Futtaim has represented M&S in the UAE since 1998 and also holds the rights for the other Gulf markets, except Saudi Arabia. In a statement Stephen Rayfield, Vice-President for M&S and Sports and Lifestyle Division at Al-Futtaim, said: “Al-Futtaim looks forward to building on our solid foundations as we continue to enrich our customers’ lives and aspirations through the provision of quality products and services in Hong Kong and Macau.”

Following the purchase of the 27 Marks & Spencer stores in Hong Kong and Macau, Al-Futtaim now operates 72 M&S stores across 11 markets in Asia and the Middle East.

As for the UK retailer, “We have substantially reshaped our International business, which has improved profitability and positioned us for growth,” said Paul Friston, Marks & Spencer’s International Director. “As one of the world’s leading retail operators, with strong logistics capabilities and local expertise, Al-Futtaim is the ideal partner for us to develop and grow our business in Hong Kong and Macau.”