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M&S confirms further store closures and reduces simply food openings programme

| International retailers

Marks & Spencer confirmed today that it will close another six outlets by the end of April and is considering shutting eight more as part of its store restructuring plans.

The six stores that will close over the next few months are in Birkenhead, Bournemouth, Durham, Fforestfach, Putney and Redditch. The other eight stores proposed for closure are in Andover, Basildon, Bridlington, Denton (Outlet), Falmouth, Fareham, Keighley and Stockport.

The group said it would try to redeploy affected staff to other stores before redundancy is considered.

As part moves to realign its estate to be meet the changing needs of customers and counter falling sales, M&S announced in November 2016 that intends to reposition around 25% of Clothing & Home space through a combination of closures, downsizes, relocations and conversions to food-only stores.

Meanwhile, M&S also said today that it has reassessed its Simply Food opening programme and now only plans to open a total of 36 owned and franchise stores over the next six months. New locations will include Broadstone, Streatham Hill and St Albans. It said these stores will sell M&S food and drink and offer Collect in Store for Clothing & Home.

M&S’s food division recorded weak performance over the festive period, with like-for-like sales falling by 0.4%. M&S traditional does well over the Christmas period as shoppers trade up for the big day, although an increased focus on premium ranges by rivals and moves by cash-strapped shoppers to save money hit sales at the chain. Following the poor results, M&S Chief Executive Steve Rowe admitted that it needed to improve its pricing for some food lines.

Commenting on today’s announcements, Sacha Berendji, Director of Retail at M&S said: “Stores will always be an integral part of our customer experience, alongside M&S.com, but we have to ensure we have the right offer in the right locations.

“We believe these changes are vital for the future of M&S and we will continue to accelerate the programme, taking tough but necessary decisions, as we focus on making M&S special.”

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