Re­tail re­treat

The 130-year-old English store Marks & Spencer has been un­able to re­sist the cold snap of the re­tail in­dus­try and will shut its 10 stores in China.

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHU WENQIAN in Bei­jing andOSWALD CHAN in Hong Kong Wang Zhuo­qiong and Qian Hui con­trib­uted to this story. Con­tact the writ­ers through zhuwen­qian@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

The 130-year-old English store Marks & Spencer has been un­able to re­sist the cold snap of the re­tail in­dus­try and ear­lier said it will shut all of its 10 stores in the Chi­nese main­land.

In­fact, it has been un­able to ac­cli­ma­tize to the China mar­ket since its launch eight years ago, and so far, not many Chi­nese con­sumers know about the brand.

The UK home, food and cloth­ing store an­nounced this week its store clo­sure plans, as the com­pany has con­tin­ued to post heavy losses in its in­ter­na­tional busi­ness.

The high street seller will con­sult with the 441 af­fected staff mem­bers about their jobs, and hopes that the both sides can reach a con­sen­sus on the ter­mi­na­tion of con­tracts. In terms of when the clo­sures will take place, the com­pany said it still needs sev­eral months, and didn’t dis­close any fur­ther de­tails, main­land fash­ion news web­site No­fash­ion.cn re­ported.

Nev­er­the­less, the rapid growth of e-com­merce in the Chi­nese main­land was the last straw for Marks & Spencer.

he com­pany said it will tem­po­rar­ily keep its on­line stores on Tmall.com and JD.com, two of the largest on­line shop­ping web­sites in China, and con­sid­ers on­line shop­ping will be the best op­tion forChi­nese con­sumers to buy its prod­ucts.

“The mar­ket re­ac­tion of for­eign de­part­ment stores is not sharp enough. The lo­cal stores usu­ally lis­ten to their global head­quar­ters, but most head­quar­ters are not fa­mil­iar with the com­mer­cial cul­ture and spend­ing men­tal­ity in China, there­fore their busi­ness strate­gies of­ten can’t match the mar­ket trends,” said Zhao Ping, deputy direc­tor of the Chi­nese Academy of In­ter­na­tional Trade and Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion, which is un­der the Min­istry of Com­merce.

Cathy Chen, a shop­per in her 30s, is fa­mil­iar with the brand, as she lived in the UK be­fore. She knows the re­tailer is about to shut down its Chi­nese main­land stores, and came to see if there was any­thing worth buy­ing.

“I of­ten shop at theMarks& Spencer store at The Place in Bei­jing, which was opened last year. But I mainly buy food and rarely buy any clothes, as the de­signs are a bit old-fash­ioned,” she said.

Adam Colton, manag­ing direc­tor of Marks & Spencer Greater China, said the group can’t con­tinue lo­cal oper­a­tions in the Chi­nese main­land, as it has been suf­fer­ing losses.

Nev­er­the­less, he said the group sawa boom­ing busi­ness in­Hong Kong andMa­cao, and Hong Kong has al­ways been one of the ma­jor over­seas mar­kets for the brand.

In its lat­est cor­po­rate re­struc­tur­ing that will axe 53 over­seas stores, the UK re­tailer will main­tain its oper­a­tions in Hong Kong, as the in­ter­na­tional fran­chises and stores in HongKong have been prof­itable with strong brand aware­ness, the com­pany said in a state­ment.

“In Hong Kong, we have an es­tab­lished pres­ence with 26 stores, and our cus­tomers have em­braced our qual­ity, in­no­va­tive cloth­ing and food prod­ucts,” Colton said.

WANG ZHUANGFEI / CHINA DAILY

The menswear sec­tion of a Marks & Spencer store in Bei­jing.

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