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M&S cuts 290 store manager jobs

THE TROUBLED retailer, Marks & Spencer, yesterday announced 290 job losses among store managers, a week before the group is expected to post its worst results in a decade.

Peter Salsbury, the M&S chief executive, said: "We have reviewed store management structures and identified some areas of duplication, overlap and unnecessary management layers within individual stores."

The cost of the redundancies is expected to be equivalent to the savings made in the first year, estimated by analysts at around pounds 10m.

The news follows February's head office cull, which saw the removal of three members of the board and a total of 230 senior executives and managers.

M&S said the restructuring should be regarded in the context of an overall review of the business, which will see it move away from its six regional divisions, focusing instead on four types of store - departmental, regional, high street and local.

But analysts remained sceptical about the changes, and the share price fell more than 1 per cent yesterday, closing at 407.75p.

Meanwhile, speculation continued that a possible merger with Tesco or Sainsbury's was keeping even the deflated share price artificially high.

Analysts fear that next week's results could hit the share price further. In January, M&S warned that pre-tax profits would fall to pounds 625m, half those of last year.

"The market is providing support for the stock, but the reality is far worse. If the figures do disappoint, which we expect them to do, the share price is going to come off sharply next week - down to at least the 360p level," one analyst said.

"This announcement is all about impressing the market with strategy. It's an untried management team which is expected to add value, but there's no sign of improved trading," he said.