M&S pulling out of five Balkan countries to refocus Eastern European expansion

Endaba Group

The retailer is closing 12 stores in Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bulgaria and Slovenia, which results in a complete exit from those countries. These closures will begin in January and affect 106 employees. These stores were apparently open before they put their current international expansion strategy in place, which has a target of 250 openings by 2017. M&S admitted last month that they would not hit that expectation due to difficulties in the Middle East and the economic slowdown of China.

With these closures, the retailer believes it can 100% focus on their successful business in Romania, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary. There will be store launches in the Czech Republic and Poland in 2016 and 2017 and two branches in Romania have been refurbished and a further shop will be overhauled next summer.

Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, Executive Director of Marketing and International, has commented on the retailer’s shift in international plans. They’re shifting them in accordance with how the market is changing and evolving. Their openings in Russia are paused: “the world has shifted, it is a different place … It is reasonable … that you would expect a different outlook on the next three years for the company”.