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Marks & Spencer to open first Beijing store

British clothing and food retailer Marks & Spencer is to open its first store in Beijing on Friday, part of its strategy in China to focus on flagship stores in the largest cities, while expanding online.

Marks & Spencer (M&S), a 131-year-old stalwart of Britain’s shopping streets, said on Thursday the new 1,500 square metre store, located at The Place shopping mall, would sell edited collections of womenswear, menswear, lingerie and kidswear as well as 1,200 food and drink products.

The firm said the store would build on the growing popularity in Beijing for M&S products through its online sites on Chinese marketplaces Tmall.com and JD.com.

M&S re-jigged its strategy for the world’s most populous nation in March when it announced the closure of five stores in secondary cities in the greater Shanghai area, and signalled a further slowdown in the pace of expansion in September, given China’s faltering economy.

It has not announced any further store openings beyond Beijing though Guangzhou and Dalian remain on the firm’s radar.

M&S has about 10 stores in the Shanghai region and about 20 in Hong Kong, meaning China represents a small percentage of its overall international estate of more than 500 mainly franchised stores.

In the six months to Sept. 26, M&S’s international sales fell 5.1 percent to 507 million pounds ($757 million). It said revenue in Greater China was up, without giving details.

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