Marks & Spencer has sold its 27-store business in Hong Kong and Macau to franchise partner Al-Futtaim.

The sale had been on the cards following a review by Marks & Spencer of its international operations as part of chief executive Steve Rose’s turaround programme.

Al-Futtaim has been an international partner of M&S since 1998, when it opened the first M&S store in Dubai.

The deal means that Al-Futtaim now operates 72 M&S stores in 11 Asian and Middle Eastern markets.

Marks & Spencer international director Paul Friston said: “We have substantially reshaped our international business, which has improved profitability and positioned us for growth.

“As one of the world’s leading retail operators, with strong logistics capabilities and local expertise, Al-Futtaim is the ideal partner for us to develop and grow our business in Hong Kong and Macau.”

Al-Futtaim M&S and sports and lifestyle division vice-president Stephen Rayfield, said: “We are delighted to strengthen our long-term partnership with M&S and expand Al-Futtaim’s international footprint to Hong Kong and Macau.

M&S’s review of international operations resulted in the retailer deciding to focus more on established franchise and joint venture partnerships and run fewer wholly-owned operations in overseas markets.

Al-Futtaim, which has interests in the automotive, financial service and real estate industries as well as retail, operates in 29 countries in Asia, Europe and the Middle East and has approximately 42,000 employees.