BOC to distribute Marks & Spencer goods in South Korea

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The Independent Online
Marks & Spencer, Britain's most profitable retailer, has signed a five-year distribution deal with BOC to spearhead a store-opening drive in the Far East, writes Chris Godsmark.

BOC, which is responsible for distributing 85 per cent of M&S's chilled foods from depots to UK stores and a fifth of its clothing, will deliver stock from a warehouse in Hemel Hempstead to up to eight stores planned to open in South Korea. The first M&S outlet will begin business later this month in the capital, Seoul, with a much larger six-floor store due to open in April. Two more branches are likely to start trading by the end of this year.

This is the first time M&S has appointed a single distributor to its overseas franchise outlets, marking a more aggressive approach to its foreign expansion plans. The Korean stores are owned by P&S, a local conglomerate, while BOC will employ 35 staff at a large warehouse.

M&S, which is spending pounds 400m on new stores around the world over the next three years, is also close to deciding whether to move into Japan, Taiwan and China.

The M&S board is expected to meet in May to analyse reports from staff on the three countries. Three years ago M&S abandoned a move into Japan because of problems with tariff barriers on imported goods. However, Sir Richard Greenbury, chairman, is keen to use the M&S brand to seek growth opportunities abroad.