Marks & Spencer is spending at least EUR13.6m (US$21m) on a joint venture with retail partner COMS to expand in Central and Eastern Europe.
It has acquired around 51% of COMS through the deal, which also includes a EUR5.2m cash sum based on business performance and the achievement of agreed targets, the UK retailer said.

M&S plans to open around 30 stores in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia over the next few years, adding to the 13 that COMS already operates.

COMS has been a franchise partner of M&S since 1996 and has exclusive rights to operate stores selling food under a franchise agreement.

Carl Leaver, director of international business at M&S, said: "There is a great opportunity to open many more Marks & Spencer stores across Central and Eastern Europe and grow a real presence in the region."

Dušan Mrozek, chairman of the board of directors at COMS, added: "We have worked with Marks & Spencer since 1996 and during that time we have always felt we've been working with the right partner."

The developments follow M&S' stated mission to grow its international business to 15-20% of group revenues.