British supermarket giant Marks & Spencer is bailing on China, closing all local stores just twelve months after opening its tenth store in China.
According to reports, M&S has pointed to “low brand awareness” as a key reason for the China exit.
“Growth in market share is also challenging given the nature of the market,” said Adam Colton, Managing Director of Greater China, told The Telegraph.
M&S first reported the possibility of mass store closures back in November 2016, after recording an 18.6 per cent slump in first-half year profit and another fall in quarterly clothing sales during the second quarter.
At the time, M&S said is planned to shut 53 stores outside the UK, in markets such as China, France, Estonia, Belgium, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
It has closed seven China stores over the last four months, confirming its final three outlets will shutter imminently.
The news comes as China’s retail market was said to have outpaced the US to become the biggest globally in 2016.
China’s total retail value was US$4.89 trillion, compared with $4.82 trillion in the US, according to the latest worldwide retail forecast by eMarketer.
Less than a fifth of that total was internet sales, said the research firm.
M&S first entered China in 2008 with a store in Shanghai.