A store on one of the most expensive streets in the world is a brave way for Marc Bolland to announce M&S’s return to Europe

If Marc Bolland wanted to make a statement when taking Marks & Spencer back into mainland Europe, by taking a store on the Champs Elysees, he’s certainly done so. The famous Parisian boulevard was ranked fifth in Cushman & Wakefield’s list of the most expensive retail streets in the world last year. (It actually fell from third place in 2009, and was overtaken by London’s Bond Street, and there has been a lot written in France about how it’s been losing its lustre).

I couldn’t see M&S opening a store on Bond Street - or for that matter any of the other eight streets in the top ten - so it’s a big shout

M&S points out that the Champs Elysees store is likely to be backed up with a network of Simply Food franchise stores in Paris operated by SSP, a smaller number of full-line stores and - most importantly - a French language website, fitting in with Bolland’s strategy of expanding internationally through multichannel, a low cost way of providing national coverage in new markets.

M&S certainly has brand awareness across the channel and its departure from the French capital last time round was much lamented. The Champs Elysees store will provide the flagship physical presence which M&S will hope a wider online and convenience business will feed off.

But much remains to be seen, and I wonder if the French public will be confused by the the offer. The Simply Foods will sell just food, the flagship store will sell womenswear and food, while the website will sell fashion and home but not food. We get that here - that’s why it’s our M&S. Will the French get it in sufficient numbers for the business to achieve any sort of scale? We’ll see - let’s hope so.