Marc Bolland, chief executive, is accelerating Marks and Spencer’s international expansion with a fifth store in Shanghai.

The high street bellwether has signed a letter of intent to lease a 3,700 square metre store in the City Centre shopping mall in Shanghai, owned by Treasury China Trust, the Singapore based property developer.

M&S said the new store was due to open in 2013.

The move is in line with the plan laid out by Mr Bolland last November, when he said China and India would be priority markets for the group. He also said M&S would concentrate on the Shanghai region over the next three years.

“As part of our new international strategy announced in November, we plan to build a strong presence in the Shanghai region, as one of our priority international markets,” M&S said.

The retailer has four stores in China, its 3,900 square metre flagship on West Nanjing Road, which opened in 2008 and stores in Yu Gardens, Skymall and Central Oriental Plaza in Ningbo, which opened in January.

International expansion is expected to be a feature of the Bolland era at M&S. While Mr Bolland will concentrate on existing markets – led by India and China – he will also look for a couple of markets to enter, in either western Europe, Asia, eastern Europe or the Middle East.

M&S is interested in a return to the French market in the near future, with the possibility of a Paris store. A site on the Champs-Elysees selling more upmarket fashion has been mooted, although the retailer has refused to confirm this.

Mr Bolland also recently appointed Jan Heere, a senior executive at Inditex as international director, with more appointments to bolster M&S’s international reach expected.

The Shanghai signing comes as M&S poaches Sara Bradley, the former head of J Sainsbury’s clothing business from Asda, where she was due to take up a new role, thought to have been head of buying for menswear and childrenswear.

Ms Bradley, who left Sainsbury last November, is joining M&S as head of buying for the retailer’s sub-brands, which Mr Bolland wants to transform into significant labels in their own rights.

She will report to Annette Browne, product direction and design head, who in turn reports to Kate Bostock, head of clothing at M&S. However, Ms Bradley could add to the pool of potential candidates to succeed Ms Bostock, if she were to decide to leave the retailer.

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