British multinational retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) has initiated talks in connection with the potential sale and franchising of company-owned retail businesses to Al-Futtaim.

Once the deal is finalised, Al-Futtaim will become the new sole franchisee for M&S in Hong Kong and Macau

Al-Futtaim operates 27 M&S stores in the Middle East region and 16 in South East Asia, including Singapore and Malaysia.

M&S' international director Paul Friston said: “In November, we set out our plans to create a more sustainable, profitable, and customer-centric international business for M&S by focusing on our established partnerships.

"Once the deal is finalised, Al-Futtaim will become the new sole franchisee for M&S in Hong Kong and Macau."

“With significant scale and retail expertise in the region, we are looking forward to discussing the potential extension of our partnership to Hong Kong and Macau as we continue to grow and develop our business together.” 

The move comes at a time when the company has been engaged in business overhaul with respect to its international operations.

The company is focused on franchise and joint venture (JV) partnerships in line with its strategy to operate fewer wholly-owned markets.

The company's Hong Kong sourcing-based operation is not part of the current negotiation and will continue to be wholly-owned.