MARKS AND SPENCER has revealed that it is planning to return to France with a combination of its department stores and its Simply Food convenience outlets.

The UK retailer is planning to open its first department store on the Champs-Elysées ahead of the Christmas trading period.

It said it was in “advanced talks” with SSP, one of its UK franchise partners, around opening a number of its Simply Food outlets.

The retailer said it is considering “strategic locations” for its food stores in and around Paris as well as a “limited number of locations from which to sell a larger clothing and food offer”.

M&S CEO Marc Bolland said: “Marks and Spencer has great brand awareness here in France and a place in customers’ hearts. We’re very excited to be returning with an e-commerce and retail offer to delight customers with our full range of clothing and home products, and the exceptional food from our Paris store.”

Late last year, speculation arose that the retailer was looking to re-acquire a number of the European properties it sold when it exited Continental Europe in 2001. There were rumours that it was attempting to buy back some of the18 French stores that were let go in a deal with Galeries Lafayette.