LONDON (AFP) – British high street chain Marks & Spencer revealed on Friday that it will return to France later this year, after withdrawing from the country ten years ago.
"Marks & Spencer today announces that it will return to France towards the end of this year with a combined e-commerce and retail 'bricks & clicks' strategy," the group said in a statement.
The prestigious company, which is regarded as a barometer of consumer sentiment in Britain, will open a new store on the Champs-Elysees in central Paris towards the end of 2011. The branch will sell womenswear and food items.
M&S added it was in advanced talks with British travel concession company SSP to open a "number" of its smaller Simply Food stores at locations in and around Paris. The firm added it was looking at a "limited number" of other locations to sell a larger selection of clothing and food.
In addition, the retailer will launch a new French website that will trade in euros and serve customers across the country.
Back in 2001, M&S had announced its exit from continental Europe with the closure of 38 stores -- including 18 regular branches in France which had employed 1,700 people.
"Marks & Spencer has great brand awareness here in France and a place in customers' hearts," said Chief Executive Marc Bolland, speaking from Paris.
"We're very excited to be returning with an e-commerce and retail offer to delight customers with our full range of clothing and home products, and the exceptional food from our Paris store."
The group added that the French website and Champs-Elysees store were scheduled to open ahead of this year's crucial peak-time Christmas trading period.
MUMBAI (AFP) – India's top carmaker Maruti Suzuki on Friday reported car sales soared 28.2 percent in March, driven by a burgeoning, affluent middle class.
Total sales rose to 121,952 cars in March from 95,123 a year earlier, said Japanese-owned Maruti, which dominates the Indian market with a 45-percent share.
Passenger and commercial vehicle sales have been on the rise as India recovers rapidly from the global downturn and incomes of the country's middle class grow.
The company said it sold 1.27 million vehicles during fiscal year 2010-11, a jump of 24.8 percent over the previous year.
In 2011, the company introduced the Suzuki Kizashi, India?s first luxury sports sedan after it had launched the new WagonR followed by a revamped version of its best-selling Alto car.
TVS Motor, India's third largest maker of motorcycles and scooters, said its total March sales rose 27 percent to 186,781 units, from a year earlier.
India's car makers have raised the prices of their vehicles recently to offset increased prices of steel and rubber components.
But despite the increases, analysts see sales remaining strong.
Car sales for the fiscal year to March 31 are estimated to have grown by at least 25 percent -- far higher than an initial forecast of 12-13 percent growth, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).
With just one in 10 households in urban areas owning a car and one in 50 in rural areas, India remains an under-penetrated, alluring market, drawing global manufacturers from General Motors to Ford and Renault.