UK retailer Marks & Spencer told just-food today (21 June) that it was expanding its overseas business, but declined to confirm reports that the company planned to open 150 new international outlets.

The Guardian newspaper reported that the retailer was considering plans to open 150 new stores abroad, the majority of which would reportedly be franchising operations.

"That number is purely speculative," an M&S spokesperson told just-food. "We do already have a healthy franchise operation overseas and we are expanding our business there."

M&S currently operates in 29 countries, with 198 franchised stores worldwide and 19 wholly owned outlets in Hong Kong, Ireland and Gibraltar.

In May, M&S CEO Stuart Rose announced plans to invest GBP570m on refurbishing 35% of the companies UK shops. At that time, Rose commented that the focus of the fashion, food and home accessory retailer's overseas operations was franchised outlets.