Marks & Spencer discussing sale of Hong Kong and Macau business

Marks & Spencer announced it has opened talks with its long-established franchise partner Al-Futtaim, for the potential purchase and franchising of M&S’s retail business in Hong Kong and Macau.

M&S and Al-Futtaim have now entered into discussions on the potential purchase and franchise which includes commencing a period of due diligence, which is expected to take several months to complete.

In a statement, the company said its employees will be kept informed of any developments throughout the process and M&S stores in Hong Kong and Macau will continue to trade as normal.

The talks follow M&S’s strategic review of its international business in November 2016, where the retailer proposed to have a greater focus on its established franchise and joint venture partnerships and operate with fewer wholly-owned markets.

In Hong Kong, where M&S has traded since 1988, the business is profitable, has strong brand awareness, an established store estate of 27 stores and a loyal customer base.

"With significant scale and retail expertise in the region, we are looking forward to discussing the potential extension of our partnership to Hong Kong and Macau as we continue to grow and develop our business together," said Paul Friston, Marks & Spencer’s international director.

Al-Futtaim has worked in partnership with M&S since 1998 and today Al-Futtaim operates 43 M&S stores across seven markets in the Middle East, Singapore and Malaysia.