The retailer, which struck a joint venture deal with Indian giant Reliance last week, believes that more competitive pricing will be key in allowing it to become a big player in the country’s burgeoning retail economy.
M&S India chief executive Mark Ashman said that increased local sourcing of product will be more cost-efficient and avoid import duties. He hopes prices can be lowered further.
M&S’s existing Indian stores – franchises run by Planet Retail – have suffered in the past as a result of prices deemed too high by middle class consumers, who could buy M&S wares more cheaply on trips abroad to the Gulf or the UK.
Ashman said that the£29 million deal with Reliance, in which M&S will open at least 50 stores within five years, would allow the retailer to open bigger shops carrying wider ranges at better value. “We will get to parity with UK pricing,” said Ashman.
M&S director of international business Carl Leaver said the Reliance deal would be vital in delivering its target of generating up to 20 per cent of revenues from overseas within five years. He said: “India will be very important to M&S in the medium term.” The intention is to open the first store with Reliance within six to nine months.
The venture with Reliance is the third international deal overseen by Leaver this year, following similar tie-ups covering eastern and central Europe, Greece and the Balkans. “We see an awful lot of growth through those other two joint ventures,” said Leaver.
M&S will also push into mainland China, with a 40,000 sq ft (3,715 sq m) store on Shanghai’s Nanjing Road later this year.
Leaver refused to say which other markets M&S is targeting, but said: “Look at the map. We’re not in South or North America or Japan – there are a lot of markets we’re not in.”