UK food and clothing retailer Marks and Spencer may open its first store in Russia this year, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.

If successful it will expand all over Russia, the agency said. Although Russia has never had any Marks and Spencer stores, English-language students learn the story of Marks and Spencer, who sold items for a penny each at the beginning of their career as market-stall owners in Leeds, it said.

Marks and Spencer will have to implement similar strategies on the Russian market because competition is tough among local and foreign merchandisers, it said. For example, retail stores Metro and Auchan now operate in Moscow and the Moscow region. Each has at least five hypermarkets, luring customers with all sorts of discounts. German firm Rewe and its Russian partners are looking to expand the Billa supermarket chain. Wal-Mart is just about the only major international trading house that has not yet invaded the Russian market.
The company's Russian strategy is likely to resemble what it did in India, where five single-storey department stores opened in a year.

Russian experts believe that Marks and Spencer, currently struggling in the face of low consumer demand in Western Europe, can improve its financial standing in Russia. Marks and Spencer wants to gain a foothold on the Russian market with the help of Turkish company FIBA, its partner in Turkey. FIBA will provide most investment, spending $800,000 on the construction of the first Marks and Spencer store in Russia.