UK retailer Marks & Spencer remains locked in talks with potential venture partners in India.

However, the company, which is looking to expand its presence in the country, refused to be drawn on local reports that it had whittled the list of potential partners down to at least three.

A report in India's Economic Times said M&S had held talks over a tie-up with audit firm Lodha & Co, retail group Trent and local conglomerate Mahindra Group.

When contacted by just-food today (4 December), a spokesperson for M&S in London stayed mum over the company's plans.

"We're not going to comment on this at all. There have been quite a few reports on who we may or may not be talking to but we are not going to comment now. We will clarify all this in due course."

M&S indicated last month it wanted to embark on a major assault on the country's booming retail sector.

M&S has 13 franchise stores in India through an existing venture with Planet Retail. The stores mostly sell clothing, although an outlet in Delhi does sell a selected range of ambient food.

The company's new venture, in which it is expected to hold a 51% stake, is likely to operate along similar lines, with an emphasis on clothing.

When contacted by just-food, a Mahindra Group spokesperson refused to comment. Officials at Lodha and Trent could not be reached for immediate comment.