UK retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) has partnered with venture capital firm Founders Factory to establish a new joint venture (JV), Founders Factory Retail, to invest in start-ups.

M&S will hold a majority share within the JV, which will build a portfolio of investments in emerging start-ups.

This partnership complements the retailer’s ongoing digital transformation efforts.

M&S chief executive Steve Rowe said: “Partnering with Founders Factory as their exclusive retail partner gives M&S access to a global network of start-ups and entrepreneurs, which will provide disruptive thinking and questioning to the way we work at a time of critical transformation within the business.

“Founders Factory have a great track record in creating successful businesses and, by investing in new innovative technologies and products, we hope to change the way we work and operate.”

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As part of the deal, the retail major will serve as an exclusive UK retail partner for Founders Factory.

“By investing in new innovative technologies and products, we hope to change the way we work and operate.”

It will also invest in various start-ups, sourced through Founders Factory’s global network with a focus on new technologies, business models and entrepreneurial thinking.

Founders Factory co-founder and executive chairman Brent Hoberman said: “We are excited to partner with M&S as our exclusive retail investor in the UK and combine the company’s scale and experience to support early-stage founders.

“After over 60 investments in the last two years, we have seen the huge potential of combining startup innovation with corporate scale and expertise, and so we are excited by this new chapter in a sector that is changing rapidly through technology.”

Earlier this month, M&S signed a strategic partnership with Microsoft to test the capabilities of technology and artificial intelligence in a retail environment.