Retail Property - M&S takeover battle may scupper expansion plans

Marks & Spencer's store opening and refurbishment programmes could be derailed by the unfolding battle for the retailer.

The brakes are likely to be applied to openings and refits, with boardroom approval unlikely while the M&S team, under new chief executive Stuart Rose, focuses on countering a bid from Philip Green.

Nicholas Howe, partner in charge of agency at Edgerley Simpson Howe & Partners, said: 'If they are fighting a takeover, property will get put on the back burner.'

Doubts have been cast over M&S's plans for more fashion-based retail park stores, such as those being trialled at Speke in Liverpool, and Fforest-fach, Swansea. The concept is set to be extended to Llantrisant, on the outskirts of Cardiff.

Plans to remodel M&S's tired UK high street portfolio, starting with the outlet at Basingstoke, may also stall.

Meanwhile, Green and now Rose have raised questions over the future of Lifestore, the concept at the forefront of the retailer's faltering push into home products, as well as M&S's nearly 100-strong convenience format Simply Food.

'What we are being told is business as usual. However, there is inevitably going to be disruption,' said one agent close to M&S.

Both Green and Rose are taking a keen interest in M&S's£2.15 billion book value store portfolio, which has not been revalued since 1989. Green's investment bankers are looking closely at M&S's property, which he may have spotted as undervalued.

DTZ Debenham Thorpe has been instructed by M&S to undertake an urgent revaluation. A£1 billion increase in the value of the retailer's portfolio is likely, which Rose could use as a central part of M&S's defence.