Marks & Spencer announces closure of up to 14 stores, putting 468 jobs at risk

Retailer says move is part of strategy to downsize clothing & home departments, in bid to focus more on food

Ben Chapman
Wednesday 31 January 2018 10:26
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The retailer is the largest to announce large-scale job cuts, as high street chains battle effects of inflation and rising interest rates
The retailer is the largest to announce large-scale job cuts, as high street chains battle effects of inflation and rising interest rates

Marks & Spencer has announced the closure of up to 14 stores, putting 468 jobs at risk.

The retailer said the closures were part of its strategy to downsize its clothing & home offering to focus more on food.

M&S said six stores will close by the end of April: Birkenhead, Bournemouth, Durham, Fforestfach, Putney and Redditch, with all staff moving to nearby stores.

A further eight stores are proposed for closure: Andover, Basildon, Bridlington, Denton (outlet), Falmouth, Fareham, Keighley and Stockport.

M&S is the latest retailer to announce large-scale job cuts, following Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and B&Q.

High street chains are battling rising prices, falling real wages and large increases to business rates.

M&S said it will now consult employees in these branches about their future. The company did not confirm how long that process would take.

If the stores do close, staff would be offered the chance to move to other stores before redundancy is considered, M&S said in a statement.

Martin Lane, managing editor of personal finance site money.co.uk, said the news was distressing for M&S employees but warned of further redundancies ahead at high street retailers.

“This is the third time in a matter of weeks we’ve heard of job cuts impacting some of the UK’s biggest stores," he said.

"The retail giants are facing turbulent times with competitive pressure from discount rivals and online sales.

M&S's announcement was not surprising after the firm's poor Christmas sales, Mr Lane said.

"Their signature luxury products are being undercut by bargain supermarkets at a fraction of the price. Shoppers expect quality and convenience for less than ever before and M&S are struggling to compete.

“Sadly I suspect this is just the beginning of redundancies in the high street retail industry we’ll witness this year.

"Shoppers habits are changing, purse strings are tightening and our reluctance to pay full price becomes more problematic for high street stores.”

Sacha Berendji, director of retail at Marks & Spencer said, “We’re committed to transforming M&S for our customers, colleagues and shareholders. Stores will always be an integral part of our customer experience, alongside M&S.com, but we have to ensure we have the right offer in the right locations.

“We don’t want any colleagues to leave M&S and we will work with each colleague individually on what is best for them as we endeavour to give everyone a role. However, we accept in some cases we may have to consider redundancy.

“We believe these changes are vital for the future of M&S and we will continue to accelerate the programme, taking tough but necessary decisions, as we focus on making M&S special.”

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