Marks and Spencer has pulled out of China, closing its prestigious Beijing branch earlier this month, the company confirmed.
The retailer said it also closed two stores in February in the country and three more in January. Three remaining stores in Shanghai are scheduled to close by 1 April.
Adam Colton, Marks & Spencer managing director for China, said: “Our decision to close our Chinese stores was driven by the fact that our stores continue to make losses and we have low brand awareness. Growth in market share is also challenging.”
Only two years ago, it was a very different story when the company said China was a “key overseas market for growth”, while also closing five stores in Shanghai that year to “ensure it is best aligned with its strategic growth plans”.
At the time, Marc Bolland, Marks & Spencer’s chief executive, said his strategy was to find franchise partners who could run the Chinese stores or alternatively operate through a joint venture with another retailer to fund his proposed plans for growth in the country.
Last June, the company signalled in to investors in its annual report that its international business was experiencing “a challenging year” and like-for-like sales in it’s owned businesses rose a mere 1 per cent.
The high street stalwart will continue to trade in Hong Kong and currently has 914 UK stores and 1382 worldwide.