M&S to bring Brooks Bros fashion to Britain

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The Independent Online
MARKS & SPENCER plans to bring its Brooks Brothers clothing chain to the UK as part of a scheme to expand the business internationally. The first stage would be a flagship store in London, with the capital's upmarket shopping thoroughfares such as Regent Street and Bond Street high on the list.

M&S is also looking at making Brooks Brothers' classic "preppy" clothing available via home shopping in Britain. Customers would be able to order via catalogues or the Internet.

The comments came as M&S confirmed plans to put its Kings supermarket business in the US up for sale in a deal that could net pounds 120m. Guy McCracken, managing director of M&S's international business, said: "M&S is determined to develop a successful international business. The decision to retain Brooks Brothers clearly signals our intention to further develop this important part of our international portfolio." M&S, which is still attempting to bounce back from a severe profits slump, is not putting any timescale on its plans to bring Brooks to Britain. Robert Colvill, finance director, would only say: "We would expect to bring Brooks to the UK before too long."

However, there are no immediate plans to sell the more classic, upmarket Brooks Brothers styles in UK branches of Marks & Spencer.

Brooks Brothers operates 148 stores in the US with a further 71 stores in Japan, and six franchise stores in Hong Kong and Taiwan. It recorded profits of pounds 12.4m last year on sales of pounds 345m.

Some analysts criticised the timing of the decision to expand Brooks, saying M&S should concentrate on developing the business in its main US market first. There have been suggestions that M&S halted investment in Brooks earlier this year due its problems in the UK market.