M&S partners Reliance Retail to form Tapti

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Aiming to establish Marks & Spencer as a major retail brand in India, the UK-based Marks and Spencer Group has entered into a joint venture with Reliance Retail, the retailing arm of Reliance Industries, to form Marks and Spencer Reliance India Pvt. Ltd, which will be known as Tapti Trading Private Limited.

With approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) of the Government of India, Marks & Spencer will take a 51 per cent interest in Tapti Trading Private Limited to operate Marks & Spencer stores in India. The company will be headed by Mark Ashman, who has been handling M&S’s operations in India.

The M&S stores will be located in India’s major cities and cover an approximate area of 20,000 square feet. All of M&S’s major apparel brands including Autograph, Per Una, Limited and Blue Harbour will be retailed at the Indian stores. The company aims to open at least 50 new stores in India over the next five years.

In an issued statement, Stuart Rose, chief executive, Marks & Spencer, said: “Reliance Retail is the ideal partner for us to accelerate our expansion and create the opportunity to open much bigger M&S stores.”

Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, said: “We are excited to partner with M&S to combine Reliance’s understanding of the Indian marketplace, and its traditional strengths in areas such as technology, infrastructure, logistics and training, with M&S’s legendary retailing and product development capabilities to deliver a delightful experience for Indian consumers.”

According to the deal, an initial investment of £29 million has been made into the JV, with both the companies agreeing to provide further funding in the future.

This move is in sync with Marks & Spencer’s plans to grow its international business by 15-20 per cent.

The group is present in India through a franchise agreement with Planet Retail and will continue to operate the existing 14 franchise stores.

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