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Web Exclusive | June 2014

Marks & Spencer expands JV with Reliance Retail

Retail in India is going places. The retail industry which started off from the Kirana shops many years ago now has stern competition from multi-brand retailers, many of whom are not of Indian origin. One such retailer is Marks & Spencer, a UK-based retailer that has seen a lot of success since opening up a few stores in metros. The British Retailer in India operates in a joint venture (JV) with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Retail, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), India’s largest private enterprise. This association has for long been fruitful to both parties and as a result, expansion is on the way.

M&S announced that it would open 100 stores in India by 2016 instead of 86 as planned last year. Britain’s largest clothing retailer has opened 40 stores in India and with the retail industry booming, there’s no better time to expand aggressively than now. The retailer’s in-store sales grew 13 per cent for FY 2014 and this is a key performance metric the chain is eager to capitalize on.

M&S’s rise in India has been rapid. Marc Bolland, CEO of the chain identified India as a huge untapped market with unlimited potential just three years ago. With the necessary licenses and a JV with Ambani’s Reliance Retail in place, the first outlet hit Indian shore not too long after that and there’s been no looking back for Bolland and M&S since then. It’s not been a cakewalk though. With Inditex SA’s Zara fast gaining popularity within the market, M&S seems to have work cut out to regain the pole position in a hotly competitive market. Last year, M&S began offering more stylish and fashionable clothes to Indians after years of struggling with brand positioning in the country.

The JV between Reliance Retail and M&S called, ‘Marks & Spencer Reliance India’ has quite successful with both parties satisfied with what’s happened in the past. Venu, Nair MD of the JV was quoted as saying, “Together with our partner Reliance Retail, we are continuing to invest into accelerating our growth in India as we build a leadership position in the market.” Clearly, the only way is up for the huge retail chain and with the Indian market seemingly poised on the verge of a huge retail turnaround, profits as well as sales could be heading north.

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