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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

UAE's Al Futtaim buys Marks & Spencer's Hong Kong and Macau retail business 

Dubai-based conglomerate now operates 72 M&S stores across Middle East and Asia

Al Futtaim has partnered with Marks & Spencer since 1998. Reem Mohammed/The National
Al Futtaim has partnered with Marks & Spencer since 1998. Reem Mohammed/The National

Al Futtaim has bought the retail business of Marks & Spencer (M&S) in Hong Kong and Macau as the Dubai-based conglomerate expands a portfolio brands that includes Guess and Tommy Hilfiger.

Al Futtaim, which has a presence in 29 countries across the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe, and UK-based Marks & Spencer did not disclose the value of the deal. Al Futtaim, which has partnered with Marks & Spencer since 1998, operates four divisions: automotive, financial services, property and retail.

The sale of the 27 stores was completed on December 30 and makes Al Futtaim the sole franchisee for M&S in Hong Kong and Macau, the companies said on Tuesday. As a result of the sale, Al Futtaim now operates 72 M&S stores across 11 countries in Asia and the Middle East.

"We are delighted to strengthen our long-term partnership with M&S and expand Al Futtaim's international footprint to Hong Kong and Macau," said Stephen Rayfield, vice president of M&S and sports and lifestyle division at Al Futtaim.

"Al Futtaim looks forward to building on our solid foundations as we continue to enrich our customers' lives and aspirations through the provision of quality products and services in Hong Kong and Macau."

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Retail operators in the UAE are venturing further afield to boost profitability as the domestic sales markets weaken because of the economic slowdown and job cuts.

Dubai-based conglomerate Majid Al Futtaim is expanding its brands and building malls in Egypt and the Arabian Gulf region to buoy sales. Last year, it bought Retail Arabia’s Geant stores and added them to its Carrefour portfolio.

M&S made the sale after a review of its international business in November 2016, when the company proposed to operate with fewer wholly-owned businesses.

"We have substantially reshaped our international business, which has improved profitability and positioned us for growth," said Paul Friston, M&S's international director.

"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."