British retailer, Marks & Spencer (M&S) announced on Tuesday that it will return to the Netherlands with a combined e-commerce and stores ‘clicks & bricks' strategy, in line with its ongoing business plan to become a leading international, multi-channel retailer.
The move replicates M&S's successful return to France in 2011 with a ‘clicks & bricks' strategy which will also see three new full-line stores open in Paris this financial year. Following the launch of its dedicated Belgian website in November 2012, M&S also plans to open a flagship store at Toison D'Or, Brussels in 2015. Additionally, M&S is today launching a dedicated website for customers in Luxemburg. The approach will see M&S offer the very latest in online and offline shopping experiences to customers across the Netherlands. M&S's strategy for the Netherlands comprises:
-A brand new Dutch website serving customers right across the country that launched yesterday (17 April) – in Dutch, priced in Euros and with local delivery and payment options;
-A complementary mobile optimized site that also launches tomorrow;
-A world class multi-channel M&S store located on the Kalverstraat in the heart of Amsterdam's shopping district. Showcasing the future of retail with cutting-edge world first technology to improve and enhance the customer experience, the store will open at 11:30am tomorrow morning. Alongside M&S's outstanding quality food, customers will be able to browse and buy the latest London style from M&S's new E-boutique which features a truly unique Virtual Rail;
-A new agreement with BP to open six M&S Simply Food pilots at BP forecourts at key locations in Randstad – with the first store opening in Utrecht in September 2013;
-The opening of two full-line M&S stores at De Markies in The Hague in spring 2014 and a flagship store at The Rokin in Amsterdam by autumn 2015 – both offering a full clothing, homeware and food offer.
Speaking from Amsterdam, Marc Bolland, Chief Executive of Marks & Spencer, said: “We're extremely happy to be coming back to Holland in response to huge customer demand. We're coming back in a new way because Holland is one of the most internet savvy countries in Europe. We are therefore launching our new website – http://www.marksandspencer.nl/ – and a brand new e-Boutique as a first step towards rolling out a number of stores in the Netherlands.”
Full multi-channel offer M&S's ‘clicks & bricks' strategy for the Netherlands is truly multi-channel, combining online and in-store shopping, in response to the changing way that consumers shop today.
Dutch website and mobile optimized site Underpinning the multi-channel offer is its new localized website and new mobile optimized site – in Dutch, priced in Euros and providing opportunities to serve customers across the whole country.
M&S's international delivery service, which sees products delivered to around 80 countries via its UK website, has proven that there is a high demand from customers for M&S products in the Netherlands which is one of the top performing markets. The new online and mobile sites will enhance the customer experience and help to build M&S's presence.
With local payment and delivery options, http://www.marksandspencer.nl/, will provide customers throughout the Netherlands with access to an extensive range of over 15,000 stylish, high quality M&S products across womenswear, lingerie, menswear and kidswear, as well as a selection of homeware.
M&S Kalverstraat M&S will also open a brand new concept store featuring its latest cutting-edge digital innovations at 226 Kalverstraat tomorrow. The new 500 m² store creates a unique and inspiring shopping environment, where customers can ‘shop to order' via the world's first Virtual Rail which seamlessly integrates digital rails with physical rails of clothing samples. Customers can place orders for free to delivery to the store through: in-store order points; dedicated style advisors equipped with iPads; by mobile using the store's free wifi; or online using on their own computers. Customers can also ‘shop to go' that day. The store offers a specially chosen edit of the latest womenswear trends, selected with the style loving, fashion focused Amsterdam customer in mind.
The store boasts a convenience range of 1,400 high quality, innovative food lines including sandwiches, salads, wines as well as some of the most popular M&S chilled prepared meals and groceries including Earl Grey tea and crumpets.
Laura Wade-Gery, Executive Director E-commerce Multi-channel at Marks & Spencer said: “The Netherlands has embraced online shopping – customers adore the ease and convenience of buying clothes this way, which is why we were determined to return with our very latest multi-channel thinking.
“The E-boutique that we are launching tomorrow demonstrates just that – it's innovative, aspirational and allows us to offer our latest fashion collections from a much smaller footprint. It also complements our new web and mobile sites to bring a truly unique retail experience to the M&S customer here in the Netherlands.”
Store presence In line with M&S's international strategy the retailer is applying a mixed ownership model as it builds its presence across the Netherlands.
M&S Simply Food pilots at BP forecourts This September will see the opening of M&S's first international M&S Simply Food pilot at a BP forecourt in Utrecht. This will be followed by the roll out of a further five pilots at key locations in and around Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht by November 2013 with the potential for further expansion into additional BP forecourts in the future.
The new stores will offer customers convenient access to a range of up to 700 high quality, innovative M&S fresh food products, including ready meals, fresh produce, sandwiches, flowers and basic groceries.
Hendrik Muilerman, Managing Director of BP Netherlands, said: “Marks & Spencer is a quality food retailer with an outstanding reputation for fresh and speciality products. With the M&S Simply Food pilots at our forecourts, we positively distinguish ourselves on the Dutch retail market. BP offers an extensive assortment of convenience products and fresh food at highly accessible sites for customers on the road and at home, at easily accessible locations with convenient opening hours. This approach forms part of BP's European retail strategy, in which our forecourts fulfill an important role for daily convenience for our customers.”
The new agreement is part of M&S's plans to open franchise M&S Simply Food stores in Western Europe and builds on the successful UK partnership between M&S and BP which launched in 2005. There are now over 160 M&S Simply Food stores at BP forecourts throughout the UK which M&S and BP will continue to strengthen and grow over the next few years.
Full-line stores M&S has also unveiled plans to open two full-line stores in the Netherlands which will showcase the very best that M&S has to offer over the next couple of years:
De Markies, The Hague – Located on the corner of the Wagenstraat and Grote Markstraat, the completely modernized development will include a 4,800 m² M&S store opening in spring 2014;
The Rokin, Amsterdam – Due to open in autumn 2015, the 6,100 square metre flagship store at the centre of the capital will be one of M&S's largest international stores.
Customers will be able to shop M&S's extensive offer of stylish fashions for the whole family, as well as home products. Each store will also feature M&S's unrivalled Foodhall, with a wide range of its popular quality food products, as well as an in-store bakery and M&S Café.
The new stores in the Netherlands will complement M&S' growing international store presence, with over 410 stores in 48 territories across Europe, Asia and the Middle East.