Marks & Spencer gets set to go Dutch

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The Independent Online

Marks & Spencer is looking to the Netherlands for the next step in its European expansion plan.

The FTSE 100 retailer's property team has been looking at cities including Rotterdam and The Hague. Marc Bolland (above), the chief executive of Marks & Spencer, is from the Netherlands, and moved to the UK in 2006 when he joined Morrisons, the supermarket chain.

If a store is secured in the Netherlands the expansion will run alongside the high street retailer's plans in France.

Last month M&S confirmed it is to return to Paris after a 10-year break. Its first French store will be a 15,000sqft womenswear and food store on the Champs Elysées. This is due to open by the end of the year.

M&S's Paris plans a multichannel "bricks and clicks" assault into France, with shops and an online presence. Between three and five company-owned full-line stores will be opened in Paris, plus Simply Food stores operated by franchise partner SSP.

The new French-language website will sell a full range of womenswear and lingerie, menswear, childrenswear and homeware – all priced in euros and with local delivery prices. M&S said independent research in November last year found that 70 per cent of 750 French consumers surveyed are aware of the brand.

M&S shares closed at 388p ahead of the bank holiday on Thursday, down 0.77 per cent on start of day's trading. This values the company at more than £6bn.