Fri, Sep 14, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Marks & Spencer ready to open two outlets in Taipei

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

British clothing and food retailer Marks & Spencer said yesterday that it would enter the Taipei market by opening its first store in the city's Zhongxiao business district tomorrow and another in Xinyi District next Thursday.

The British retailer opened its first Taiwanese shop in Kaohsiung's Dream Mall in May.

"Opening two stores successively in Taipei is an important milestone for our expansion in Taiwan," said Stephen Walker, managing director of Marks & Spencer in Taiwan, at a press conference.

"We've received great feedback in Kaohsiung, so we've got great confidence in bringing the brand to Taipei," he said.

Walker refused to provide financial figures for the Kaohsiung store, and declined to say what the targets of its two new stores were.

The company will base its future expansion plans on the performance of the two new stores and market demand, he said.

"We're looking at more than three stores in Taiwan," Walker said.

The first Taipei store is located in Tonlin Plaza in the prime Zhongxiao-Dunhua shopping circle and occupies 900 ping (2,975m2). The second Taipei store, with 800 ping of space, will be on the third floor of the New York New York Shopping Mall.

Both stores will be fitted with the latest Marks & Spencer's global design concept to give customers "the freedom of a bright, free-flowing environment with spacious and cozy fitting rooms," the company said.

Marks & Spencer provides a complete range of clothing for men, women and children under its own brand names to meet the demand of different lifestyles and age groups, Walker said.

Its brand names include Blue Harbour, Autograph, Limited Collection, Classic and Per Una.

The retailer offers more lines of casual clothes in Kaohsiung, as the region is an industrial zone, Walker said.

Describing Taipei as a sophisticated and international city with a high concentration of white-collar workers, the retailer is set to offer more formal outfits and fashion lines, he said.

Marks & Spencer enters the Taipei market amid rising consumer prices and a slight increase in the unemployment rate, which could affect purchasing power.

The unemployment rate rose 0.07 percentage points from June to 4.03 percent in July, and the consumer price index for last month was up 1.59 percent year-on-year owing to price hikes in farm and fishery products, government statistics showed.

Walker said he was not worried.

Economics have a cyclical nature and the retailer is looking forward to the end of the latest cycle, he said.

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