Over 100 M&S stores to close

Shoppers at Marks & Spencer

Update: The FTSE 100 has racked up another all-time high but Marks and Spencer (MKS) was left behind by the rally, as the retailer confirmed store closures.

M&S today named 14 stores earmarked for closure, with 21 already having shut and a further 65 are yet to be earmarked. It plans to relocate, convert and downsize other stores and "radically" reshape its clothing and homewares business.

In regards to the job losses over the store closures, M&S director of retail Sacha Berendji said the company will be working to make as few cuts as possible.

"I would urge them to consider relocating the Fleetwood M&S store to Lord Street to safeguard local jobs, as well as offering the people of Fleetwood the opportunity to continue shopping in the heart of our community".

M&S chief executive Steve Rowe said in November 2016 that 30 United Kingdom stores would close before the plans were subsequently scaled-up and accelerated.

Since turnround specialist Archie Norman was named M&S chairman a year ago, however, the pace of restructuring has increased.

M&S faces unrelenting competition both in clothing and food on the high street and online, while efforts to revitalise its business are being hampered by an ongoing squeeze on consumers' spending power.

He added: "Usdaw has thousands of members working for Marks & Spencer and the staff now need, more than ever, the representation and support of an independent trade union".

The Marks & Spencer Food Hall in Whitstable
The Marks & Spencer Food Hall in Whitstable

Maureen Hinton, group retail research director at GlobalData, notes after dominating the United Kingdom clothing market for decades, M&S is "perilously close" to losing its status as the number one clothing retailer to Primark.

"The closure of yet more stores will hasten the decline unless it can shift the lost sales to its online channel and transfer to its other stores", she says.

M&S has been losing share for more than two decades after achieving its peak clothing market share of 13.5% in the United Kingdom in 1997.

"In 2018 GlobalData forecasts its shares will be 7.6% in clothing - virtually halving in two decades".

The tranche of closures affect Clothing & Home stores that have been underperforming for several years.

Marks & Spencer has scrapped plans to open 15 food stores too.

She said: "We don't want any colleagues to leave M&S and we will work with each colleague individually on what is best for them as we endeavour to give everyone a role". It also has stores that boast fashion and homeware products.

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