British retail chain Marks & Spencer's, which operates through an alliance with Reliance Retail, on Monday said its India operations will be the largest outside the home market by the turn of 2016 by when it will have over 80 stores here.
"India is a priority market for us and we are working closely with our partner Reliance Retail. We see India becoming our largest market outside England by 2016. We have set a clear plan to build a leadership position here. We are targeting around 80 stores here by 2016," M&S chief executive Marc Bolland told reporters in Mumbai.
As part of the expansion, the company will open eight more stores by the end of this fiscal, and the rest over the next two years.
As a leading retailer Reliance Retail is the perfect partner for M&S with its extensive local expertise and experience, he said. Bolland, however, refused to divulge investment that the company has so far made here or any revenue split.
He also refused to share how much the company will invest to open these new stores. The company currently operates 36 stores in the country including the standalone flagship store at Bandra in the megapolis.
Last week M&S had said its India sales rose 28.1 per cent in the first half of the fiscal, but did not specify how much, while its global profit rose 13.5 per cent to 249.6 million pounds on a 11.2 per cent rise in global revenues rose to 600 million pounds during the same period, led by sales in India and China.
"We have successfully partnered with M&S over the years to combine Reliance Retail's expertise in retailing and understanding of the domestic marketplace. We look forward to our continued engagement with them," Reliance Retail's apparel business head Sriram Srinivasan said.
Stating that the proposed expansion is part of the company's ongoing strategy to become a leading global and multi-channel retailer here, Bolland said India remains priority market for them. Bolland said the M&S India strategy comprises focusing on building a leadership position including in cities such as Mumbai and Delhi, by opening a cluster of supporting stores around its flagship stores.
At the same time, it also plans to expand into smaller cities like Surat and Kanpur, he added. Spread over 35,000 sq ft over five floors, the Bandra store is the JV's largest store in the country offering over 300 products.
The company also announced debut of the world-first Marks & Spencer lingerie and beauty department at the Bandra store and the Delhi offering will come later this week. M&S and Reliance formed the JV in 2008.
Since this April, M&S has opened seven stores including doubling its presence in Mumbai and entering Kochi and Vadodara. M&S locally sources 64 per cent of its products sold in the country with the rest coming in from across the world.