United Kingdom’s largest clothing retailer Marks and Spencer (M&S) is due to open at the up market Champ Elysees in Paris toward the end of 2011, with the intention of opening more outlets around the French capital in the future.
After a decade-long absence in France, a three-floor flagship store will be launched at 100 Champs-Elysees with female apparel, including the company’s noted lingerie range as well as housewares and M&S food. The High Street London-based retailer will open its doors before the peak Christmas trading period, and the company will also be debuting the first French international transactional website and will be trading in euros.
In 2001 M&S made an executive decision to close all money-losing stores in continental Europe and concentrate on its home market. The former head of M&S admitted that the decision to close up the European business was erroneous and the new chief executive Marc Bolland has reversed the trend.
M&S had been operating in Paris since the 1970s and when it ceased its operations in 2001 there was staff and consumer outrage. There was even a book of condolences outside its store at the time at Boulevard Haussmann opposite the Galeries Lafayettes, which was considered its most profitable store in the world, according to The Guardian. This popularity would suggest that the French taste for the British retailer was relatively strong.
“It wasn’t just about France, it was about continental Europe,” Marks & Spencer’s Executive Director of Food John Dixon said of the exit in an interview with Bloomberg. “Customers want us back. We’ve had hundreds of letters and e-mails.”
Speaking from Paris, Marc Bolland, Marks & Spencer's chief executive, said: “Marks & Spencer has great brand awareness here in France and a place in customers' hearts. We're very excited to be returning with an e-commerce and retail offer to delight customers with our full range of clothing and home products, and the exceptional food from our Paris store.”
M&S claims to have over 21 million customers visiting its stores on a weekly basis, with 697 U.K. stores and 358 outlets internationally.