UK retailer Marks&Spencer (M&S) announced on Monday that it would close its online shop on Tmall, an e-commerce website owned by internet giant Alibaba, following a strategic review of its international business.
The M&S Tmall store is now the retailer's only distribution channel in China, after it closed all its 10 physical stores in the Chinese mainland in November 2016 and sold its Hong Kong and Macao retail businesses in December, marking a complete withdrawal from the Chinese market.
The British company set up its first China store in Shanghai in 2008, and expanded to Beijing and second-tier Chinese cities. It opened its online store at the end of 2012.
According to its financial statement, in fiscal 2017 the company lost more than 31.5 million pounds (.36 million) globally, and profits dropped more than 39.6 percent, indicating a failure in appealing to Chinese customers.
"I have been to their store only once in Shanghai last year. The layout of the combination of clothing and imported British food is weird and I've never heard people around me buying the brand," a white-collar worker surnamed Zhu said, adding that she would prefer to buy clothes from ZARA and Uniqlo because they are more fashionable.
As part of its last move in leaving China, M&S is clearing its online products at a huge discount, and it said that it would keep the website open for one week more for aftersales service.
"M&S also texted me about this news last week and I am a follower of their online shop," a buyer surnamed Ke told the Global Times on Tuesday.
"However, I only bought base layers in the store because of their good quality and reasonable prices. As for the coats, sweaters and other products in M&S, I think they are old-fashioned and the sizes are too big for Chinese people," Ke added.
Other Chinese customers shared the same comments on the brand, complaining about its conservative style, though saying it has good quality.