M&S is in talks to hand its owned business in Hong Kong and Macau to its long-established franchise partner Al-Futtaim.

A successful conclusion to discussions with the Middle Eastern partner would see it handed the franchise for M&S’ owned stores in the region.

The discussions stem from M&S’ strategic review of its international business last November, when the Steve Rowe-run organisation declared that it wanted to operate fewer fully owned stores and transition to franchise and joint venture international stores.

The talks between M&S and Al-Futtaim, with which it has worked since 1998, are expected to take several months.

M&S international director Paul Friston said: “In November we set out our plans to create a more sustainable, profitable and customer-centric international business for M&S by focusing on our established partnerships.

“With significant scale and retail expertise in the region, we are looking forward to discussing the potential extension of our partnership to Hong Kong and Macau as we continue to grow and develop our business together.”