Retail news round-up on December 17, 2015: M&S set to open first outlet in the Chinese capital city and The Hut Group in discussions to offload stake to BlackRock.

M&S opens first store in Beijing

Marks and Spencer is opening its first new flagship outlet in Beijing as the high street chain continues its Chinese expansion.

The shop, spanning 1,500 sq m, will be located at The Place shopping centre and will stock edited collections of clothing for men, women and children along with 1,200 food and drink items.

It will be officially opened by models David Gandy and Ming Xi, along with the company's international director Costas Antimissaris, China country manager Maria Rodal and president of The Place Investment Group Ji Zenghe.

Antimissaris said: 'Beijing is an exciting market for M&S where we've already seen a strong demand for our quality products online. We're delighted to have secured such a prime location for our first store in the capital where we are bringing our flagship shopping experience to customers in Beijing.’

The store will be the retailer’s 10th in the country.

The Hut could sell ‘considerable’ stake to BlackRock

Online retailer The Hut Group is locked in discussions with BlackRock about offloading a significant stake after withdrawing its stock market flotation plans, Financial Times reported.

The US asset manager is looking to pump more than $100m in investment, people familiar with the situation said.

This capital injection would help provide a boost to the company in financing further expansion in the US and elsewhere.

Holland & Barrett annual turnover leaps 12%

Holland & Barrett recorded almost 12% surge in its annual turnover, thanks to consumers' growing consciousness around healthy eating and awareness around allergies and intolerances.

Sales at the health food chain rose to £573.5m in the 12 months to the end of September. On a like-for-like basis, sales jumped 10.4%, buoyed by an 8% increase in the number of shoppers visiting its 744 stores across the country.

The health retailer’s earnings increased 12% to £146m in the past 12 months.

The company is planning to double sales to £1bn by 2020.

“This year’s performance, especially our rapid growth overseas, underlines the fact that rising consumer interest in healthier living and wellness is by no means a UK or even "estern phenomenon," said Holland & Barrett International chief executive Peter Aldis.