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M&S sees £321m store closure bill

Closing stores has cost Marks & Spencer £321m in the past year.

The chain saw pre-tax profits fall by almost two-thirds to £66.8m in the year to 31 March.

The store closure plan has been accelerated to 100 clothing and home stores by 2022. Of these 21 have already been closed and 14 have been earmarked for closure. Three will close by the end of July, two by early 2019 and the remaining nine are subject to staff consultation.

It said in the initial closures 86% of staff were found new jobs.

‘This modernisation programme is to close some of the small stores where we can't give the full offer, and show customers in our better stores, our bigger stores the full range of what M&S does,’ said Steve Rowe, Marks & Spencer ceo. ‘It is a catch-up programme, we have to make sure we don't stop modernising our estate and that we give our customers the stores that they deserve.’

The chain wants a third of sales to be online but has admitted its website’s performance is behind that of its rivals and its Castle Donington distribution system cannot keep up with demand.

In the past two years the group has seen almost £1bn of costs on closures, IT restructuring, logistics and write-offs.