M&S returns to The Netherlands after 10 year hiatus

Wednesday, 17 April 2013
After a 10-year absence Marks & Spencer is returning to The Netherlands with a combined e-commerce and boutique strategy. The company exited the European mainland a decade ago, after its offer of clothing failed to entice customers and was in the shadow of other leading high street fashion brands. At the time the company lacked a European strategy, which, since the appointment of CEO Mark Bolland, has become a renewed focus for its expansion and growth.

M&S returned to Europe with a first boutique and website in France two years ago, followed by Belgium, Luxemburg and The Netherlands.

M&S expand with new 'clicks & bricks' strategy

Its strategy embraces a 'clicks & bricks' business, giving the company a physical retail presence in key locations as well as a fully operational e-commerce site across its product offer.

M&S' Dutch website went live on 17 April which sells its own brand of food and fashion with a lauded new feature called Virtual Rail. The opening will be followed by two stores opening in The Hague by 2014 and a flagship in Amsterdam by autumn 2015.

M&S Virtual Rail will allow customer to 'shop to order' in a new system which combines digital rails with physical rails of clothing samples. Customers can place orders for free to deliver to the store through, in-store order points; dedicated style advisors equipped with iPads; by mobile using the store's free wifi; or online using on their own computers.

Customers can also 'shop to go' that day. The store offers a specially chosen edit of the latest womenswear trends, selected with the style loving, fashion focussed Amsterdam customer in mind, it stated in its press release.

Speaking from Amsterdam, Marc Bolland, Chief Executive of Marks & Spencer, said: “We're extremely happy to be coming back to Holland in response to huge customer demand. We're coming back in a new way because Holland is one of the most internet savvy countries in Europe. We are therefore launching our new website and new e-Boutique as a first step towards rolling out a number of stores in the Netherlands.”

The new stores in the Netherlands will complement M&S' growing international store presence, with over 410 stores in 48 territories across Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Image: M&S Virtual Rail

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