M&S stores in Shropshire avoid the axe - for now

Marks & Spencer is to close 100 stores by 2022 as it accelerates a transformation programme

Marks & Spencer is to close 100 stores by 2022 as it accelerates a transformation programme

Marks & Spencer has said it will close over 100 by 2022.

The firm, which has struggled in recent years aside from its food offering, wants to trim its estate. The closures are part of a plan announced in 2016 to slash the amount of shopfloor space devoted to its clothing and home ranges.

"Closing stores isn't easy but it is vital for the future of M&S", said retail director Sacha Berendji.

He said that where stores have already closed, "encouraging" numbers of consumers were now shopping at nearby stores.

M&S chief executive Steve Rowe said in November 2016 that 30 United Kingdom stores would close before the plans were subsequently scaled-up and accelerated.

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The retail giant says it is "accelerating" its strategy transformation strategy launched in November previous year as it focuses more on food and online sales.

It comes just over 30 years after M&S pulled a major high street branch out of Fleetwood town centre, a move which many residents believe sparked a massive decline on Lord Street, which is still being felt today.

The nine remaining stores will enter a consultancy period with 626 impacted employees, who will either be redeployed or made redundant.

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.

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

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Online shopping accounts for 22% of non-food retail sales in the United Kingdom, according to the British Retail Consortium. Its position seemed unassailable, but since then its market share has been on a declining trend, Hinton explains.

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.

"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.

The Fleetwood M&S outlet will close on July 28 and 13 of the chain's other stores are proposed for closure or set to close, as part of M&S's programme to reshape its United Kingdom store estate. It also has stores that boast fashion and homeware products.

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