Marks and Spencer agrees India joint venture

LONDON, April 18, 2008 (AFP) – Marks and Spencer said Friday it had entered into a joint venture with Reliance Retail of India in the hope of establishing the British food-to-clothes retailer as a “major retail brand” in South Asia. “Reliance Retail is the ideal partner for us to accelerate our expansion and create the opportunity to open much bigger M&S stores,” Marks and Spencer chief executive Stuart Rose said in a joint statement.

Marks and Spencer said it would take a 51 percent interest in a new company, M&S Reliance India, while Reliance would own the remainder.

Each partner would initially invest up to 29 million pounds (37 million euros, 58 million dollars) in the venture.

The new company would have the right to operate Marks and Spencer stores in India selling items including women’s, men’s and children’s clothing as well as homewares.

It would aim to open at least 50 new stores in India over the next five years, the statement added. .