M&S to close 100 stores by 2022

In another blow to the UK high street, Marks & Spencer has proposed more closures as part of its transformation strategy.


AFP

The department store chain said over 100 M&S stores will have closed in total by 2022, including 21 that have already closed. Additionally, 15 fewer Simply Food stores will open this year than planned as the programme to boost the chain’s Food category is scaled back.

M&S Clothing & Home stores in Bayswater, Fleetwood Outlet and Newton Abbot Outlet will close by the end of July, while shops in Clacton and Holloway Road will close by early 2019.

Clothing & Home stores in Darlington, East Kilbride, Falkirk, Kettering, Newmarket, New Mersey Speke, Northampton, Stockton and Walsall are proposed for closure and will enter a period of consultation with all 626 affected employees.

The closures, coupled with relocations, conversions, downsizes and new concessions, will “radically reshape M&S’s Clothing & Home space,” the British brand said. The main goal is to take at least a third of sales online, where generally business in booming.

“We are making good progress with our plans to reshape our store estate to be more relevant to our customers and support our online growth plans. Closing stores isn’t easy but it is vital for the future of M&S,” said Sacha Berendji, Retail, Operations and Property Director at Marks & Spencer.

“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.”

Under the company’s wider five-year transformation plan, Marks & Spencer has the ambition to create fewer and better Clothing & Home stores that will be larger, digitally driven and better located. They will be supported by a seamless experience across online and offline channels, and Food stores will act as next-day collection points for Clothing & Home purchases.

But to succeed with the new strategy, Marks & Spencer will have to significantly improve its online presence, according to Terry Hunter, UK managing director of Astound Commerce. “If the company is going to recover from its recent sales slump, it is imperative that it has an exceptional online offering. It will now be competing more directly than ever with the likes of Amazon and Asos.

“Online retailers like Asos take advantage of efficient and nimble business models by avoiding the costly overheads associated with running bricks-and-mortar stores and as a result, they can afford to invest a great deal in offering websites which give the best possible user experience. Although M&S is cutting back on some of these overheads, it is not as experienced or effective in the ecommerce arena as the pureplay online retailers. M&S needs to make sure its in-store offering works in harmony with its online strategy.”

Additionally, there is the question of M&S’s ageing demographic. Going forward, ensuring that over-50s shoppers continue to visit the stores whilst attracting the younger, tech-savvy consumer online will be crucial for the department store’s success.
 

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