Czech Marks & Spencer stores to open food only outlets, go back to basics

Marks & Spencer store at Wenceslas square in Prague, photo: Kucmel007, CC BY-SA 3.0

British based retailer Marks & Spencer announced this week that it will open food-only outlets in the Czech Republic.

Marks & Spencer store at Wenceslas square in Prague, photo: Kucmel007, CC BY-SA 3.0
Zdeněk Hašek, marketing director for Czech Marks & Spencer, announced the plan in an interview for the business weekly Marketing & Media. The UK-based chain already operates food departments in its Prague outlets, including its flagship store on Wenceslas Square. The retailer, which has turned the corner and for the first time in four years finished in the black, has also announced its plan to open its own Czech e-shop with a much wider variety of goods than currently on offer in stores.

Mr Hašek also said the company is likely to close down some of its outlets, located mostly in the city’s large shopping centres. “After a period of expansion, when we opened up lots of new outlets, we discovered that not all of them were profitable. So we are currently slimming down and we will consider the opening of new outlets better in the future,” he told the weekly. The specialised Simply Food Stores by Marks & Spencer should open as soon as next year. According to Hašek, the company is currently looking for suitable locations for the food-only stores.

Zdeněk Hašek, photo: Archive of Zdeněk Hašek
Globally, Marks & Spencer generates more profit from food than from clothes, but that has not been the case in the Czech Republic so far. In Great Britain, the ratio is 60 to 40 in favour of food, while in the Czech Republic it is two to one in favour of clothes. Marks and Spencer’s outlet at Prague’s Nový Smíchov shopping mall is one of the first two Czech branches, where the company generated more profit from selling food than from selling clothes.

According to Hašek, the Czech branch of Marks & Spencer wants to focus now on getting out of the perpetual spiral of discounts and sales and focus more on timeless clothing styles as well as quality and affordability, such as formal wear and underwear.

Michael Marks, photo: Bombix145, CC BY-SA 4.0
Marks & Spencer is popular among expats living in the Czech Republic for its wide range of British-style and Indian food, which are hard to find in Czech stores, such as spicy sauces, chutneys, canned soups and stews and specialty cakes and cookies.

The store was founded by Michael Marks and Thomas Spencer in Leeds in 1884. The first Marks & Spencer store in the Czech Republic opened in 1996.