Marks and Spencer has announced plans to close 14 of its stores this year in a move which will affect 468 employees.
The closures are part of the British retailer’s ‘transformation plan’ aiming to modernise its stores and meet the changing expectations of customers.
Six stores will close by the end of April: Birkenhead, Bournemouth, Durham, Fforestfach, Putney and Redditch, with all colleagues moving to nearby stores.
A further eight stores are proposed for closure: Andover, Basildon, Bridlington, Denton (Outlet), Falmouth, Fareham, Keighley and Stockport.
The affected employees will enter a consultation period after which they will be be redeployed or offered redeployment at other stores before redundancy is considered.
M&S has also reassessed and reduced its Simply Food opening programme, and now only plans to open a total of 36 owned and franchise stores over the next six months.
Sacha Berendji, director of retail at Marks and 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.”
She added: “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.”
Sean Moran, restructuring specialist at law firm Shakespeare Martineau, said: “The news is not surprising as M&S has experienced well publicised difficulties with its clothing and home space offering in what is a challenging time for the retail marketplace.
“M&S is in a similar position to the high-profile retail casualties of 2017, including Palmer & Harvey, Multiyork and Toys R Us. A combination of outdated store portfolios and the failure to adapt swiftly enough to the rise of online trading has forced businesses in this sector to restructure their operations including using a company voluntary arrangement as a mechanism to ensure business survival.
“M&S seems to be taking proactive steps to assure the market with a reorganisation that focuses on consolidation of its core strengths as a strong mid-market food retailer whilst closing or downsizing less profitable stores on the retail side.”