Marks and Spencer accelerates store closure plan

Ruben Fields
May 24, 2018

Of the 100 M&S store closures, 36 locations have been announced with the sites of the further 64 stores yet to be revealed.

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.

As of the end of March, the retailer had 1,035 United Kingdom stores, made up of 300 clothing, home and food stores, 696 food-only stores and 39 outlets. Its clothing and home business is a particular focus of its transformation efforts. The closures are part of a plan announced in 2016 to slash the amount of shopfloor space devoted to its clothing and home ranges. Plans to open more M&S food stores, which until recently had been propping up the clothing business, were also scaled back.

"Closing stores isn't easy but it is vital for the future of M&S", said Berendji in a written statement.

Sacha Berendji, a top retail director at M&S said this announcement was part of a "wider five-year transformation plan to make M&S special again". "Where we have closed stores, we are seeing an encouraging number of customers moving to nearby stores".

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

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

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.

Shares in M&S were down 3 percent at 1017 GMT.

Over the past decade M&S has lost 2.2ppt market share as it fights to find a relevant offer for the modern consumer, Hinton continues.

While Marks & Spencer has dominated the United Kingdom clothing market for decades, its position as the clothes retailer with the largest market share is now "perilously close to being lost to Primark this year", according to Maureen Hinton of data firm GlobalData.

"M&S certainly does not need to have so much space and so many stores to deliver its current non-food revenue - GBP3.8bn in March 2017 from 303 stores and 11.3m sq ft of selling space", Hinton says. It also has stores that boast fashion and homeware products.

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