Saturday, 17 August, 2019

Marks & Spencer to close 100 stores by 2022 but none in Ireland

Marks & Spencer signs are seen outside outside a store in London Britain Marks & Spencer signs are seen outside outside a store in London Britain
Emmett Howard | 24 May, 2018, 02:54

Marks & Spencer says it will close more than 100 stores by 2022 as it accelerates a transformation programme that will see thousands of jobs put at risk.

Of the closures, 21 shops have shut already with a further 14 to close their doors in the next year.

Amid the soaring popularity of online shopping, and the growing importance of delivering a seamless omni-channel experience, department stores the world over have had adjust in a rapidly evolving retail environment.

M&S has previously described the food arm as exhibiting "ongoing under-performance", with chief executive Steve Rowe saying he will slow expansion of the Simply Food chain as the group battles to restore its high street fortunes. Its clothing and home business is a particular focus of its transformation efforts.

In a statement, the company said there will be relocations, conversions, downsizes and the introduction of concessions, to "radically reshape" M&S's Clothing & Home space.

The company also said it would open 15 fewer Simply Food stores as it scales back its food opening programe.

'Closing stores isn't easy but it is vital for the future of M&S.

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In November 2017, the company set out a five-year transformation programme, which included the slowdown of its Simply Food store opening programme, the sale and franchise of its retail business in Hong Kong and Macau and the acceleration of the United Kingdom store estate closure programme.

The closures represent around a tenth of the clothing and food group's United Kingdom stores, as it grapples with weak consumer spending and intense competition from supermarkets, fashion chains like Zara and H&M as well as online giant Amazon.

Retail veteran Archie Norman, who took over as M&S chairman a year ago, said the retailer has been "drifting" and promised to speed up changes.

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.

Making the announcement today, a spokesman said more and more sales were moving online which has contributed to the decision.

M&S shares were down 2.6% at 292p in afternoon trading on Tuesday. Its position seemed unassailable, but since then its market share has been on a declining trend, Hinton explains.

The latest closures will affect a total of 872 employees. It also has stores that boast fashion and homeware products.

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