Reliance Retail, Marks

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New Delhi, Apr 18 (UNI) Marks and Spencer Group plc today said it has signed a joint venture agreement with Reliance Retail, for establishing Marks&Spencer as a major retail brand in the country with an initial investment of 29 million euros.

Once the JV receives the approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), Marks and Spencer will take a 51 per cent stake in Marks and Spencer Reliance India Pvt Ltd (MSRIPL) (the JV company) with Reliance Retail taking the rest, a statement said.

The value of the initial investment into the JV will be up to 29 million dollars (in cash or in kind) between the parties, the statement added.

The JV company will be able to operate Marks and Spencer stores in the country and plans to open 50 new stores in the country over the next five years.

However, Planet Retail, which is Marks and Spencer's existing franchise partner in India, will continue as a franchisee in respect of the 14 existing franchise stores.

The announcement comes in the wake of Marks and Spencer's plans to grow its international business to 15-20 per cent of Group revenues within the next five years.

''India is a very exciting opportunity for us and a market where we can become a major retail brand,'' said Marks and Spencer Chief Executive Officer Sir Stuart Rose.

The Chief Executive Officer of the JV company will be Mark Ashman and Chief Financial Officer will be Jatin Luthra.

''We intend to open bigger stores, selling a wider range of products at lower prices, including a growing number of products sourced from local suppliers,'' MSRIPL CEO Mark Ashman said.

UNI SR BJR KN2118

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