Over 100 M&S stores to close

A branch of retail store Marks & Spencer in central London. The company reports results on Wednesday. Toby Melville  Reuters

A branch of retail store Marks & Spencer in central London. The company reports results on Wednesday. Toby Melville Reuters

Fleetwood MP Cat Smith commented: "I am deeply disappointed by the announcement M&S is to close its store at Freeport Outlet Village in Fleetwood, which I know will impact many of my constituents who both work and shop at the outlet".

Including the two North East stores, M&S has today announced that 14 stores in total are proposed for closure or set to close.

Marks & Spencer Group plans to close about one-third of its large United Kingdom stores over the next four years, as the retailer belatedly adapts to the rise of e-commerce.

'Closing stores isn't easy but it is vital for the future of M&S. "Where we have closed stores, we are seeing an encouraging number of customers moving to nearby stores and enjoying shopping with us in a better environment, which is why we're continuing to transform our estate with pace".

In 2015, M&S was announced alongside Next as the first retailers committed to opening in the new Riverside development, which is now underway.

"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.

Meanwhile, the Clacton-on-Sea mixed clothing and food store, employing 57, is set to close - but a new store is being launched at nearby Walton-on-the-Naze in late 2018, and it is expected most will transfer to it, or to Colchester.

Maureen Hinton, from analytics firm GlobalData, said M&S was "perilously close" to losing its top spot in the United Kingdom clothing market to Primark.

At the time M&S said it would axe about 60 stores across the United Kingdom - possibly affecting around 2,000 jobs.

M&S has stores in Blackburn and Burnley but they were not included in this round of closures.

Currently, around 18 percent of M&S' clothing and home sales are made online. "M&S has to get its clothing-and-home stores down to a much smaller number unless they can demonstrate there is a real objective to them". It plans to relocate, convert and downsize other stores and "radically" reshape its clothing and homewares business.

After years of putting off store closings, M&S is taking more drastic action to halt its loss of market share to online rivals and discounters under chairman Archie Norman.

GlobalData has forecast that its clothing market share will be 7.6% this year - nearly halving in two decades - despite opening more stores selling clothing, homewares and food under the one roof.

Shares in M&S were down 3 percent at 1017 GMT. "John Lewis' 49 stores generate virtually the same revenue with half the space plus its online business".

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