The Paris stores will offer M&Ss fresh food catalogue

The Paris stores will offer M&S's fresh food catalogue

UK retailer Marks and Spencer has signed a franchise deal that will see it open a network of stores in Paris with French newsagent Relay.

As part of its drive to grow its presence internationally, M&S yesterday (22 October) revealed it has signed an agreement with Relay to open around ten stores in and around Paris by 2018. The first store is scheduled to open next summer.

The stores will be located at key railway stations, metro stations and airports. M&S said there is potential to expand this partnership to additional travel locations in the future.

Marks and Spencer, which currently has four food stores in Paris, will brand the new outlets under the M&S Food banner. A spokesperson for the retailer said its decision to use the M&S Food banner, rather than Simply Food, was because it is "clearer and resonates better with French consumers".

The move builds on the plans announced by the retailer in November 2010 to invest GBP850-900m (US$1.3-1.4bn) in overhauling its UK business and developing its international operations.

"Our food business has gone from strength to strength under our plans to transform M&S," chief executive Marc Bolland said. "We've delivered 15 quarters of like-for-like growth in the UK and have opened food stores in cities like Amsterdam and Paris. We're delighted to be partnering with Relay France to drive our international ambition even further."

The Relay deal signals a further move by the retailer to return to growth in western Europe, a region it had retreated from ten years ago.

M&S, which now aims to become a leading international and multi-channel retailer, relaunched its business in France in 2011. It also launched a website in Belgium last autumn and the group plans to open a flagship store in Brussels in 2015.

In April, M&S opened a store in Amsterdam carrying a food and non-food offering. The retailer plans to open a further two full-line stores in The Hague and Amsterdam in the coming two years. It has also entered into an agreement to open six Simply Food pilots at BP forecourts in "key locations" in Randstad.