Retail giant Marks & Spencer has confirmed the sale and franchise of its 27-store business in Hong Kong and Macau as part of an overhaul of its international division.
M&S last year started discussions with long-term franchise partner Al-Futtaim, which already operates its stores across seven markets in the Middle East, Singapore and Malaysia.
On Tuesday, the retailer said that Al-Futtaim will become the new sole franchisee for M&S in Hong Kong and Macau.
The move comes as part of efforts to cut the group’s wholly owned international businesses under a wider overhaul announced in November 2016.
Paul Friston, Marks & Spencer’s international director, said: “We have substantially reshaped our international business, which has improved profitability and positioned us for growth.
“As one of the world’s leading retail operators, with strong logistics capabilities and local expertise, Al-Futtaim is the ideal partner for us to develop and grow our business in Hong Kong and Macau.”
M&S first opened stores in Hong Kong in 1988 and said the business is profitable with a “loyal customer base”.
It has worked with Al-Futtaim, which runs a total of 72 M&S stores, since 1998.
Domestically, M&S has had a difficult time of late and in November said it is speeding up plans to close under-performing clothing stores and will slow expansion of its Simply Food chain as its battles to restore its high street fortunes.
The group said it would further “reshape” the clothing and home arm to focus on the most successful locations, while also driving more online sales.
Shares in the retailer rose 0.29% to 315.7p in mid-morning trade on the London Stock Exchange.