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Marks and Spencer Switches Gears in China

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British retailer Marks & Spencer announced Monday that it plans to shutter five stores in the Shanghai region of China.

Following a review of its growth plans for the country, the 131-year-old retailer decided it would scrap one-third of its 15 existing Shanghai stores by August, while planning to set up shop in other cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou within the next year, as well as investing in Hong Kong — where it currently has 18 wholly-owned stores and four standalone food stores — and growing its presence in Macau.

Last year M&S flagged China, where it’s had a presence since 2008, as one of its “priority international markets,” saying it was “fully committed to its business” there.

In addition to its brick-and-mortar strategy, the retailer will continue to leverage local e-commerce partners in an effort to strengthen brand awareness and reach across the country. In January it launched a children’s clothing store on Alibaba’s TMall.com, on which is has been selling men’s and women’s clothing since 2012. It’s also selling clothing through Chinese e-tailer JD.com.

News of the store closures came as the company’s regional director for Asia, Brian Findlay, quit after less than two years on the job. According to the Financial Times, he’s taking up a role at Italian fashion brand Diesel.

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