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Marks & Spencer Reliance appoints former India retail head Munson as MD

Fashion apparel retailer Marks & Spencer Reliance India Pvt. Ltd has appointed former India head of retail James Munson as managing director, a company statement said.

A seasoned retail professional with over 20 years of experience, Munson joined Marks & Spencer in the UK in 2006. In 2011, he was appointed Marks & Spencer Reliance India’s head of retail, with responsibilities spanning supply chain and visual merchandise. Later, in 2014, he was appointed managing director of Marks & Spencer's Czech Group, where he oversaw 48 stores in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania and Estonia.

James Munson
Munson replaces Venu Nair, who is leaving later this month to pursue his new role as chief commercial officer for Tata group's retail arm Trent Ltd, the statement said. Munson will take over his new role in May.

"James Munson has extensive retail experience and solid understanding of our India business. We would also like to thank Venu for his contribution to Marks & Spencer over the last 14 years," said Jonathan Glenister, Marks & Spencer’s regional director of Europe, India and Greater China.

With 57 stores across 27 cities, India has the highest number of Marks & Spencer stores in the world outside of the UK. The company, which opened its first store in India in 2001, signed a joint venture with billionaire Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Retail to form Marks & Spencer Reliance India in April 2008.

The apparel retailer is also expanding its online reach through fashion platforms Myntra, AJIO and, most recently, Amazon.

Marks and Spencer Reliance India's sales rose 16% to Rs 714.3 crore in the financial year ended March 2016 from Rs 617.13 crore in the previous fiscal. Net loss narrowed in FY16 from the previous year.

Other established offline players in the apparel space include Biba Apparels, FabIndia and House of Anita Dongre.

In a major deal in the space last year, US-based private equity investor TA Associates Management LP invested $140 million (Rs 937 crore) in TCNS Clothing Co Pvt. Ltd, which owns the W brand of clothing for women, to buy out shares from existing shareholders including Matrix Partners India.

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