Marks & Spencer has big plans for the Benelux

Marks & Spencer has big plans for the Benelux

With its new strategy, Marks & Spencer wants to re-establish its presence on the European mainland. The opening of the location in Paris in 2011 was just a start, this week a multichannel store opened in Amsterdam and a new Dutch online shop also started up.

Multichannel in Amsterdam

This week M&S (re)opened its first Dutch store, with a surface of 500 sqm, in Amsterdam. It is a special combination of online and offline shopping: M&S calls its latest location “a showcase for the future of retail to improve the customer experience”.

 

The store has an ‘e-boutique’, where shoppers can look at pieces of clothing virtually. Not all clothes can be taken home immediately, but everything can be ordered in the shop, via iPads of the staff or the mobile website on a smartphone.

 

At this brand new concept store customers will not only find clothing: they can also come by for a number of convenience products, such as sandwiches, salads, wine, food and ready-meals.

 

Dutch start

That M&S launches this multichannel formula in the Netherlands, is not a coincidence: according to Laura Wade-Gery, responsible for multichannel at M&S, online shopping is well established in the Netherlands and the Dutch customer has already learnt to appreciate the many advantages of this way of shopping.

 

With this e-boutique M&S improves comfort for customers even further: they get to see an expansive collection, without M&S having to invest in more square meters. Talk about a win-win situation…

 

Further expansion in Belgium and France

Marks & Spencer's ambitions in the Benelux reach further: in Amsterdam and in The Hague the chain will open a flagship store offering the complete assortment of food, clothing and living accessories. The store in Amsterdam will be a massive 4,000 m², including a food hall and a restaurant.

 

Belgian customers, who already got a new online shop in November, can go shopping in Brussels from 2015. According to M&S, Belgians use the international delivery system M&S offers on its website the most.

 

Paris will get three extra stores this year alone and in Luxembourg the online activities will be expanded this week.

 

Collaboration with BP gas stations

The M&S comeback takes it even further: the British retailer will also bring M&S Simply Food to the mainland. These shops, which are adjacent to a gas station, have about 700 fresh food products such as ready-meals, sandwiches and basic products on offer.

 

M&S has reached a franchise agreement with BP, which has been the partner for more than 160 M&S Simply Food stores in Great-Britain since 2005. The opening of the first M&S Simply Food in the Netherlands is planned for September in Utrecht. Five more locations in the Netherlands will open up by the end of this year.

 

Comeback after twelve years

Financial problems were the cause of the departure of M&S in 2001. The 38 locations on the European mainland had to close, so all attention could go to the British market.

 

That is all a thing of the past: M&S has been working on a comeback and from now on wants to position itself as a multichannel retailer. The opening of the first shop in Paris in 2011 clearly was only the beginning.

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