Marks & Spencer today announced that the Company has selected The Just Jeans Group as its franchise partner for Australia and that it plans to open the first M&S store late next year.
The appointment follows a lengthy feasibility study and extensive investigation into possible partners. Mr Paul P D Smith, Chief Executive of Marks & Spencer in the Asia Pacific Region said:
"Australia is very important to our growth and we are very excited about working with The Just Jeans Group's dynamic team. The Just Jeans Group has the all-important local retail experience and also shares the values and business principles that have been the cornerstone to Marks & Spencer's success. I am confident that our co-operation will lead to a long-term and mutually profitable relationship while we together develop the M&S brand in Australia".
Mr Smith said that response to M&S's search for a trading partner had generated significant interest. He said that Mr Carl Oden, M&S's General Manager of Australia operations, would now be working with The Just Jeans Group to identify potential prime sites for the first store and that more specific plans would be announced in the first quarter of 1998. "We hope very much that the first store can be open within a year" he said.
Mr Jim McDonald, Director of Retail Operations for Marks & Spencer in the Region, said that Marks & Spencer has targeted Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane as its first phase locations. "Initially, we expect to have stores of about 1,000 - 1,500 sq metres selling our exclusive St Michael range of ladies' and men's clothing, lingerie, accessories and shoes, toiletries and cosmetics" he said.
He said that the Company's research had shown that many Australians already associate the Marks & Spencer name with its trademark "Quality, Value and Service" and that the research indicated that the Company's "value for money formula" would be well accepted. "We see Australia as a significant growth opportunity for M&S in the 2000s" he said.
Craig Kimberley, Executive Chairman of The Just Jeans Group, said "We have been talking with Marks & Spencer for almost a year and are delighted to have been selected as their franchise partner. We believe this is an excellent time for a first class international retailer such as Marks & Spencer to enter the Australian market, and will be working with them to identify sites with an eye to opening the first store this time next year".
The Just Jeans Group was founded by the Kimberley family in Melbourne in 1970 and has since grown to one of Australia's most creative retailers. The Just Jeans Group's 1996 turnover was A$340 million across its three businesses (Just Jeans, Jay Jay's and Jacqui E), which now comprise almost 500 stores throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Marks & Spencer, which has over 450 owned and franchise stores around the world, 44 of which are in seven countries in the Asia Pacific Region, earlier this month announced plans to spend £2.1 billion (US$3.5 billion) on global expansion which will create at least 6,000 new jobs in the next three years.
Distributed by PR Newswire on behalf of Marks & Spencer