The British retailer is reportedly considering exiting its businesses in Hong Kong and Macau and to sell them to its franchise partner Al-Futtaim.

The UK-based retailer said Wednesday it has begun talks on the potential sale of the stores, which Al-Futtaim would continue to operate under the M&S franchise. The talks are expected to take several months to complete, reported the ‘India Times’.

This decision is understood to be part of the overhauling strategy the retail group launched last November. The plan includes measures such as the closure of more than 80 stores both nationally and internationally, and to seek joint ventures and franchise partnerships.

As confirmed by the company in a corporate release, the Hong Kong and Macau stores would continue to trade as normal.

It’s worth recalling that the Marks&Spencer – Al-Futtaim partnership goes back to 1998. The Middle Eastern company operates 43 M&S stores across seven markets in the Middle East, Singapore and Malaysia.