Marks & Spencer plans to open 250 new shops overseas

MARKS & Spencer (M&S) is gunning for a 40 per cent boost in profits from international stores and hundreds of new outlets abroad in just three years, as the firm lays out a major expansion plan.

Announced in Paris yesterday, the fresh strategy will mean a huge jump in the number of M&S stores outside of the UK, with another 250 by 2017, up from the current 455 it has internationally.

Chief exec Marc Bolland said that the firm is aiming for £250m in sales from western Europe by the 2016-17 financial year, excluding Spain, Italy and the UK. The plan is based around existing flagship stores in EU capitals, but 60 per cent are expected to be franchises. With expanded operations, M&S plans to offer same or next-day food delivery across the majority of the EU.

Further afield, Bolland said that the firm wants to have 100 stores across India in just two years’ time, a significant jump from the current 38. Russia, China and the Middle East were named as the company’s other growth markets.

M&S also plans to have around 10 lingerie and beauty stores in Saudi Arabia in two years, up from two now, and 20 in India, where it currently has none.

Online development will also be part of the growth, with new websites in Russia and Finland during the next year alone.

A decade ago, the firm moved in the opposite direction, moving to concentrate on the UK and laying off thousands of staff in Europe, following a rapid drop in sales.