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Marks & Spencer is to launch 46 new websites in overseas markets from Iceland to Uzbekistan, as part of moves to grow its online business. It expands the retailer’s online reach to more than 100 countries, offering M&S clothing and homeware.

The firm said the expansion would enable it to capitalise on growth without considerable upfront costs. Last year, M&S posted its first loss in its 94 years as a publicly-listed company as coronavirus hit store sales.

“Our international business has seen strong online growth since the start of the pandemic as increasing numbers of customers choose to shop through our range of flagship websites,” said Paul Friston, international director at M&S.

Online e-commerce sales were up 75% according to its latest interim results, as overall losses across the business reached £87.6m in the six months to 26 September. M&S is in the midst of a wide-reaching transformation programme which last year saw 7,000 job cuts across stores and management.

“Under our Never the Same Again programme we’re focused on turbo-charging our online business both in the UK and internationally, and as part of this we see a real opportunity in extending the number of countries where we run an online channel further,” Mr Friston said.

The expansion has been achieved using a “low-cost approach”, the retailer added.

Using an “adaptable” website platform designed for international sales, orders are fulfilled through M&S’ distribution network. “This means that ongoing costs mirror customer demand, and by having an adaptable website platform M&S can further increase the localisation of its offer quickly and efficiently in response,” the company said.

M&S’ international online channels have been translated into 10 more languages and additional currencies.

Steve Rowe, chief executive of M&S, has previously said his goal is to deliver long-term transformation and build a brand that is more digital “in a world that will never be the same again”. The latest move follows a joint venture with Ocado last year which allows customers to order M&S food through the online supermarket for home delivery.

M&S created more than 750 new lines, including in grocery and homecare to broaden its appeal on the Ocado platform.

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