Marks & Spencer has opened an experimental standalone beauty store in Mumbai with Indian partner Reliance.

The retailer has in the past acknowledged its weakness in the category compared with department store rivals, but a spokeswoman said the Indian shop was an opportunistic use of spacenear an existing store, and not a prototype for roll-out.

Overseas growth is high on M&S’s agenda and the retailer is seeking an international director. Industry sources said that Debenhams international director Francis McAuley and New Look franchise director Alex Cara are among the likely candidates on M&S’s radar. Neither was available for comment.

Marks & Spencer will issue a second-quarter update next Thursday.