Marks & Spencer to return to Finland

UK retailer Marks & Spencer has agreed to return to Finland with plans in place to open seven stores and one online shop in the Nordic country.

The chain, which quit the country in the 1990s, is renowned for its luxury food products and affordable fashion. The franchising deal to return has been agreed with Finland’s S-Group, which will open seven stores and a Finnish-language online shop before 2016.

The first Marks & Spencer will be opened in the popular Sokos department store in the centre of Helsinki. That outlet, along with two others in Hameenlinna and Jyvaskyla, are due to open by October 2014. Other stores are to open in Lahti, Pori, Lappeenranta and Tampere.

It will be the second time the British chain has tried to become a prominent figure in the Finnish market. Its previous attempt, a partnership with Stockman, proved unsuccessful and was brought to an end in the latter years of the 1990s.

With more than 700 outlets in the UK and a further 450 worldwide, Marks and Spencer is among Britain’s largest retailers. The company was founded in Leeds in 1884 by Michael Marks and Thomas Spencer and, in 1998, became the first UK retailer to record pre-tax profits of more than £1bn.