[Fashion and franchises] IN BRITAIN, LEADING fashion retailer Marks & Spencer operates some 400 stores in its home market, and has also expanded overseas. The company now has 150 stores in 30 countries outside Britain, including more than 130 franchise businesses. The result is about 10 million customers every week, served by one of the company's 67,000 employees worldwide. The first Hong Kong store, operated by wholly owned subsidiary Marks & Spencer (Asia Pacific), was opened in May 1988. There are now eight local stores with close to 600 staff and, as part of its mission to achieve the highest quality standards, the company is running comprehensive training and development programmes for entry-level recruits and graduate management trainees. All sales advisers are given career development opportunities with job rotations that take them to different departments and different stores. The experience gained opens the way to promotion to store manager level, if they have shown a consistent and satisfactory performance and have the relevant competencies. All vacancies are first advertised internally, and if no suitable candidates are found, the company will proceed to recruit externally. Candidates for the role of store manager should have a tertiary education, three to five years' management experience in retail or customer service positions, a knowledge of store procedures and financial practices, and good written and spoken English and Chinese. The person who gets the job will be responsible for maximising sales and profitability and creating a pleasant shopping environment for customers. Day-to-day duties include ensuring store operations run smoothly, motivating staff and monitoring health and safety issues. Also included are managing stock, responding to customer needs and analysing customer preferences to create strategies that fit the clientele and the store profile. All store managers receive regular training in the technical and leadership skills they need to achieve sales performance targets, minimise risk and manage staff effectively.