Marks & Spencer opens largest Abu Dhabi store at Yas Mall

The 4,000 square metre shop signals a renewed effort to break through in a part of the world that is now considered a priority.

Yas Mall opened in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, November 19, 2014. Silvia Razgova / The National
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Marks & Spencer has opened an outlet at Yas Mall. The move comes amid lacklustre sales for the British retail giant in the Middle East.
The 4,000 square metre shop, operated by Al Futtaim, the company's franchise partner in the Middle East, signals a renewed effort to break through in a part of the world that is now considered a priority market. Al Futtaim operates 28 Marks & Spencer stores across the region, 13 of which are in the UAE.
"We're delighted to be opening our largest store [in the city] at Abu Dhabi's brand new retail and leisure destination," said Mark Koprowski, Marks & Spencer's regional director for the Middle East.
"Securing prime flagship shopping locations like Yas Mall with our franchise partners is an important part of our international growth strategy. As one of the world's leading retail operators, we are pleased to be continuing to build our presence in the Gulf with our long-standing partners Al-Futtaim."
Marks & Spencer is selling products including womenswear, menswear, lingerie, kidswear and beauty accessories at Yas Mall. The store also features Marks & Spencer's food products, including freshly baked goods from its in-store bakery, and the M&S Café.
While Marks & Spencer reported in its 26-week earnings ending September 27 that the outlook for its business in the UK was brightening, the Middle East has not been one of the company's most fortunate. The group's revenues from the Middle East dropped 24.4 per cent to £93 million (Dh535.9m) from £123m in the same period the previous year. That compares to overall revenue growth in the same period for the group of £4.9 billion, a 0.5 per cent increase from the corresponding period last year.
"Our franchise business has been impacted by currency and political issues in our Middle East region and lower shipments," Marks & Spencer said in a statement this month.
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