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M&S staff set to rise by 40%

Marks & Spencer Al-Futtaim is aiming to increase its workforce by 40 per cent this year to support its biggest single year of expansion in its history.

Marks & Spencer Al-Futtaim is aiming to increase its workforce by 40 per cent this year to support the biggest single year of expansion in its history.

The franchise will open eight new stores across the region this year, boosting its square footage by a third.

"In terms of members of staff we are hoping to go from about 1,000 at the start of the year to 1,400 [by] year end," said Mark Senior, the head of operations at Marks & Spencer.

Earlier this year it opened its first new store of the eight in Jordan, a new market for the brand, and this week it unveiled a new branch in Mirdif City Centre in Dubai - its 10th in the UAE and 20th in the region.

Next week it will open its second location in Bahrain and later in the year open new stores in Ras Al Khaimah, Beirut, Dubai, Cairo and Kuwait. The stores will feature a new look with different flooring, lighting, signage and more mannequins.

"It is designed to give a warmer and more inviting feel for customers coming into the store," said Mr Senior.

Marks & Spencer's Middle East sales rose by about 10 per cent in the last quarter of the year, far outpacing sales in the brand's home market, which registered a 4 per cent rise in food and a 3.8 per cent dip in general merchandise, including clothing.

"We know that the economy in this region is generally strong and it's growing. I think the M&S brand resonates particularly well with the Middle East customer," said Mr Senior.

"I think it is not an unfair statement to say that the international business is one of the success stories of Marks & Spencer and we intend to ensure that it remains the case."

Business continues to be good this year, he said, with both new stores and existing branches performing well.

"We are very pleased with how things are going," he said.

Food is seen as a key part of the business, but it is at the moment limited to a range of frozen and pre-packaged goods such as cereal, pasta, sauces and biscuits.

"If we can find new opportunities to develop our range we will. Obviously there are constraints in terms of ingredients, availability from the UK, and we have to work around that," added Mr Senior.



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