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Marks and Spencer partners with Founders Factory to invest in retail startups

Marks and Spencer and Founders Factory have partnered for the launch of Founders Factory Retail, a joint venture focused on investing and growing startups.

Marks and Spencer will become Founders Factory’s exclusive UK retail partner, investing in a number of startups sourced through Founders Factory’s global network as part of the retailer’s aim to put digital at the heart of its transformation strategy.

It recently announced a partnership with Microsoft in which it will test the capabilities of technology and artificial intelligence in a retail environment.

The retailer will become the majority shareholder and will build a portfolio of investments in fast growth startups, which it will seek to grow and scale.

Founders Factory was co-founded by Brent Hoberman, founder of Lastminute.com, and Henry Lane Fox. The tech firm is focused on launching and scaling startups across a range of sectors.

Steve Rowe, M&S chief executive, said: “Partnering with Founders Factory as their exclusive retail partner gives M&S access to a global network of start-ups and entrepreneurs which will provide disruptive thinking and questioning to the way we work at a time of critical transformation within the business.

“Founders Factory have a great track record in creating successful businesses and by investing in new innovative technologies and products we hope to change the way we work and operate.”

Brent Hoberman, co-founder and executive chairman, Founders Factory, said: “We are excited to partner with M&S as our exclusive retail investor in the UK and combine the company’s scale and experience to support early-stage founders.

“After over 60 investments in the last two years we have seen the huge potential of combining startup innovation with corporate scale and expertise, and so we are excited by this new chapter in a sector that is changing rapidly through technology.”

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