Marks & Spencer tackles structural issues as profits slump

Posted May 23, 2018

Marks and Spencer plans to close 100 stores by 2022, accelerating a reorganisation that it says is "vital" for the retailer's future.

Yesterday, M&S said it would close 100 United Kingdom stores by 2022, further accelerating the plan as it strives to make at least a third of sales online.

Marks and Spencer-the British food-to-clothing retailer would be closing more than hundred "underperforming" United Kingdom stores in an ongoing reform, as was said on Tuesday.

M&S named 14 stores earmarked for closure, including in London's Bayswater and Holloway Road, with a total of 872 employees affected.

United Kingdom costs were up 1.8% in the period due to costs relating to new space, inflation and channel shift.

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Since M&S first announced its closure programme in November 2016, 18 stores have shut and three have been relocated.

This latest wave of closures will feel like a body blow to locations that are already under pressure.

But this business still has a massive task in reviving its fortunes and tomorrow's annual results will be further proof of that.

Sacha Berendji-the retail, operations and property director at M&S said that that they are making nice advancement with their plans of restructuring their store chains for making them more relevant to the customers and to assist the online growth plans.

Those changes included scaling back ambitions for its Simply Food chain. It is now worth less than both online grocer Ocado (OCDO.L) and online fashion website ASOS (ASOS.L), starkly illustrating how shopping habits have changed in only a decade.

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Commenting on the results Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown (Frankfurt: DMB.F - news), said M&S investors were essentially being asked to take a "leap of faith". "Having a huge store estate is no longer the powerful retail force that it once was".

M&S lost more ground in the fourth quarter, with like-for-like clothing and home sales down 3.4 percent, worse than the previous quarter's 2.8 percent drop, and same store food sales down 0.6 percent, against a third quarter 0.4 percent fall.

Profits after tax fell 74.8 per cent from £115.7 million to £29.1 million year-on-year.

However, shares in M&S were up 4.5% at 304.90 pence on Wednesday, having hit a high of 311.00p earlier in the session.

Maureen Hinton, from analytics firm GlobalData, said M&S was "perilously close" to losing its top spot in the United Kingdom clothing market to Primark.

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