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M&S loosens stiff upper lip

business Updated: Jul 30, 2009 21:19 IST
Ruchi Hajela
Ruchi Hajela
Hindustan Times
M&S loosens stiff upper lip

A brand that many Indians associate with the British stiff upper lip is now turning a new leaf for India. UK’s high street retail chain Marks & Spencer (M&S) is on a ‘Made in India’ drive to shed its premium image and attract buyers.

Adopting a low-margin, high-volume strategy, and scaling down the pack sizes, it now sources products from local suppliers, stripping down imports from the UK that used to attract a 38 per cent duty.

The company operates in India in a joint venture with Reliance Retail and is called Marks & Spencer Reliance India Pvt Ltd. Earlier, M&S had a franchise partnership with Planet Retail Holdings, which it has since exited completely.

“The franchise partner had positioned us a premium brand and this was not working in our favour,” Mark Ashman, chief executive officer, Marks & Spencer Reliance India told Hindustan Times. “Our focus is on ‘Made in India’ for sale in India.” “Our prices are 20 per cent lower this summer than previous year,” Ashman said. A men’s T-shirt, for instance, starts Rs 395 onwards and is available in 14 colours.

The company has 15 stores across the country and is sourcing from 42 Indian suppliers at present, helped by 52 staffers in Bangalore.