Cheer at last for expats as M&S returns to Spain
News Article Date: Wednesday 21st of October 2009
For homesick British expatriates in Spain, the news will provide a welcome reminder of the old country: Marks & Spencer is coming back.
Moreover, it is heading for the resort of choice for the archetypal middle-aged, middle-class, sometimes very wealthy Brit abroad — Marbella, the playground of the Costa del Sol.
When the 14,000 sq ft franchised store opens its doors eight years after the retailer shut up shop in mainland Spain, the retailer is hoping that popular lines such as women’s lingerie and tins of shortbread will prove irresistible, and not only for the “exiles”. It also has its eye on attracting Spanish clients, for whom its stores were always a big draw.
The outlet will be franchised to York Limited, M&S’s long-term partner, and will complement its existing store in Gibraltar near by. It still has four stores in the Canary Islands.
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Already the return of a British institution such as M&S has raised spirits among the expat population on the Costa del Sol, which has been hit hard by the fall in the value of the pound against the euro and the collapse of the Spanish property market.
The new store will sell a range of clothing, homewear and biscuits and cakes — but no fresh food, so M&S sandwiches are not on the menu.
More to the point, perhaps, reports in Spain suggest, with discernable optimism, that the Marbella store might mark the return of Marks & Spencer across mainland Spain. Begoña Zaragoza Tamarit, a marketing executive in Barcelona, said: “It would be great if they opened up again. I used to go to their stores all the time.”
However, a Marks & Spencer spokesman said: “We do always look for opportunities, but we want to see how this store goes before deciding on expanding.”
Clem Constantine, director of international at Marks & Spencer, said: “We’re delighted to be opening a new store in Marbella this autumn. We’ve had a successful franchise partnership with York Limited for over 40 years in Gibraltar and feel this is an excellent opportunity for us to offer our high-quality, good-value products to both the local and expat population in Marbella.”
Marks & Spencer arrived in Spain in 1990, expanding fast with nine stores opening across the country. However, despite its popularity, in 2001 it opted to sell all its shops to El Corte Inglés, Spain’s biggest department store chain, for a reported €150 million. Other M&S stores in France and Germany were also closed.
The opening of Marks & Spencer’s new store in Spain comes as the group looks to return to continental Europe after its high-profile exit at the turn of the decade. It is also looking to expand further afield, as the global economy picks up speed more quickly than that of Britain.
The retailer has plans to open stores in the fast-growing markets of China and India and is also going to work with franchise partners
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