Marks and Spencer to close 100 stores

Peter Macdiarmid  Getty Images

Peter Macdiarmid Getty Images

Marks & Spencer (M&S), one of the best known names in United Kingdom retail, first said it would reduce the amount of store space devoted to clothing and homewares in 2016, shortly after company lifer Steve Rowe became chief executive.

The figure of more than 100 closures includes 21 that have already shut and 14 stores newly identified for closure. "These changes come with short term costs which are reflected in today's results", said Steve Rowe, Marks & Spencer CEO in a statement.

Adjusted pretax profit still fell 5.4% to GBP580.9 million, hit by a decrease in its Food gross margin, which fell "more than expected" by 140 basis points during the year.

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Marks & Spencer's supply chains in both Clothing & Home and in Food require significant upgrades, the retailer told investors when it revealed a 62 per cent fall in pre-tax profit for the year to 31st March.

M&S said that although online sales are growing, its online capability is "behind the best of our competitors and our website is too slow".

M&S lost more ground in its fourth quarter, with like-for-like clothing and home sales down 3.4 percent, worse than the previous quarter's 2.8 percent drop, and same store food sales down 0.6 percent, against a third quarter fall of 0.4 percent.

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M&S is one of the UK's leading retailers, offering own-brand food, clothing and home products in its 1,433 stores worldwide and online. M&S attributed this decline to the planned removal of two clearance sales and unseasonal trading conditions during the second half of the year.

The company announced that it will be shutting 100 stores by 2022 as part of a "transformation programme" as it continues to struggle. The plan was announced 18 months ago, to close down number of stores dedicated to M&S's clothing range. "The new organisation will largely be in place by July and the team is now tackling transforming our culture to make M&S a faster, lower cost, more commercial, more digital business", Rowe added. Closing stores isn't easy but it is vital for the future of M&S.

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