6 Nov, 2010 @ 09:00
1 min read

M&S plans to expand

ALMOST a decade after closing its nine stores in Spain, Marks & Spencer wants to return to the Iberian peninsula.

The retail giant’s new boss is looking to buy back the stores it sold to Corte Ingles in 2001.

Marc Bolland’s review of the chain is due next week, when he is expected to announce the bold plan, aimed at kick starting M&S’s international growth.

Last year a franchise branch of Marks and Spencer opened in Marbella, to complement the other fanchise in this area, on

But Bolland’s review could see shops wholly owned by Marks & Spencer appearing in the region’s major cities such as Seville, Cordoba and Malaga.

A total of 3,350 jobs were lost across Europe and continental consumers at its 38 stores were in uproar, when M&S pulled out in March 2001 as part of a group restructuring.

One retail executive with knowledge of the situation said that M&S has been keen to make amends for its strategic gaffe ever since. “They approached El Corte Inglés to buy back the assets. Marc Bolland wants to rebuild some of the geographies quickly.”

The potential cost to M&S of taking back the stores is not known.

In 2001 it sold the nine Spanish stores for a reported 150m euros.

However the price of commercial property across Europe has soared since then, despite the recent downturn. “It all depends on how big M&S’s cheque is,” said the executive.

Sir Stuart Rose, M&S’s outgoing chairman and its former chief executive, has said in the past that he regretted the chain’s decision to exit its European stores, as the Olive Press reported in our March 10 issue.

M&S’s European shops traded successfully over the 1980s and 1990s.

In 1997 M&S’s Continental operation contributed 43m euros of profits, but by 2000 the division made a 7m euros loss, and in the first half of 2001 losses widened to £12.3m euros.

M&S, which declined to comment on a move into Europe, has 320 shops overseas but the vast majority are run as franchises and it has no whollyowned stores in Western Europe.

Jon Clarke (Publisher & Editor)

Jon Clarke is a Londoner who worked at the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday as an investigative journalist before moving permanently to Spain in 2003 where he helped set up the Olive Press. He is the author of three books; Costa Killer, Dining Secrets of Andalucia and My Search for Madeleine.

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  1. All the thousands of women over in Spain are so deprived of a decent clothes shop and have to rely on going over the UK as often as possible to buy our clothes and underwear. The shops that are here in Southern Spain are mainly for the young slim things except El Corte Inglas of course but there stuff isn’t a patch on M&S and the prices are high. How wonderful it would be if you did come over here again, we are crying out for you

    Judy Hocking

  2. Judy, I don´t know where you live but you will be pleased to know that M&S have a store in Las Canadas, Marbella and also in Gibraltar which have lots of clothes. You can also order on line from M&S for clothes for delivery in mainland Europe, albeit you have to pay about 7.50 GBP delivery. I have no gripe with Spanish clothes shops, in our little town we have loads of shops which sell some very good quality stuff at quite reasonable prices. However, I agree with you, I would like M&S to develop here because I want good quality convenience food. Yes, I love to cook but sometimes it would be nice to have a night off. Sadly the M&S stores in Gib and Marbella are pathetice for their food choice, so we are reduced to Morrisons in Gib. It surely should tell the English supermarkets that Morrisons in Gib have the biggest profit making store. With all the millions they are making I would think it would be in Sainsbury, Tesco, etc. interest to make a move over here instead of blighting the English countryside further. How many stores can the UK sustain. You only have to witness all the Brits (and a lot of Spanish from just over the border) stocking up at Morrisons in Gib to appreciate that there would be loads of money to be made from the big supermarkets opening up over here ( I´m sure they have ample funds to grease the necessary palms here as we know they already do in England). When an English pal asked me what I missed most in Spain, my only answer was Melton Mowbray pork pies, Wensleydale cheese and the Telegraph Crossword, sad aren´t I!!!

  3. Hello Suzannah – how lovely to hear from you. Sadly I live near Torrevieja,Alicante so no chance of a store near us. We are always saying why cant they come here there are so many ripe sites for development. I dont think I will live to see M&S near us!! and that is not being morbid. Yes I realize that I can order on line, but you cant beat trying things on eh? I would love to get my hands on some of their gorgeous food – when I see the advert for “A Dinner for 2 for £10” I could cry. The biggest excitement here is an Iceland store – now that is sad!!!


  4. Hola Judy, my Spanish geography isn´t very good, but why don´t you have a long weekend in Gib if it isn´t feasible to drive back and to in a day from Torrevieja (I can see it looks a long way on the map). It´s a 5 hour return trip for us but well worth it for our “treats”. I have never shopped in Iceland but there again never thought I would be reduced to Lidl which must be worse!!! How come all the “cheapo” supermarkets can open up here but the big boys don´t? I agree with you on the “Dinner for 2 for a tenner”, perhaps we should stop watching British telly because of the temptations, ha ha…. Re shopping on line of course you are right, trying on is important but sometimes you know what fits you okay from M&S.

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