British retail major Marks & Spencer (M&S) is planning to expand its overseas presence by doubling its stores in India.

The retailer plans to open around 80 new M&S stores in the Indian market by 2016 through its Indian partner Reliance Retail.

Initially, around eight stores will be opened by the end of March 2014, followed by further 36 stores in the next two years. The proposed stores, under the plan, will be opened in cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Surat and Kanpur.

The store opening program is part of the retailer’s ongoing strategy to become a leading international, multi-channel retailer.

Marks & Spencer, which presently operates 36 stores in India, noted that the plans to double its presence in India will see the country become M&S’s largest international market outside of the UK.

M&S chief executive Marc Bolland said India is a priority market for M&S and the firm is working closely together with its partner Reliance Retail to set a clear plan to build a leadership position.

"As the nation’s leading retailer operator, Reliance Retail is the perfect partner for us in India with extensive local expertise and experience, with strengths in infrastructure, logistics, technology and property.

"This combined with M&S’s brand loyalty and exceptional quality, stylish products, has seen us continue to deliver strong double digit growth in India. Now with 36 stores, we have the ideal platform to accelerate our growth in the market and see India become our largest international market outside of the UK by 2016," Bolland added.

Further, the retailer is also looking to capitalize on the growth opportunities in lingerie and beauty in the Indian market.