M&S "perilously close" to losing top clothing retailer spot

Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer

Andy Barber, head of region for West Midlands at Marks & Spencer, said: "Proposing to close M&S Walsall has been a hard decision and we will be fully supporting our loyal colleagues during this process".

The firm, which has struggled in recent years aside from its food offering, wants to trim its estate.

This morning M&S announced 14 stores it had earmarked for closure, in addition to 21 that have already shut.

Sacha Berendji, retail, operations and property director at Marks & Spencer said: "Closing stores isn't easy but it is vital for the future of M&S".

Marks & Spencer, which is proposing the closure of the Newmarket outlet, along with a number of "underperforming" stores, says it is now entering consultation with affected employees.

The closures are part of a five-year "transformation" turnaround plan by chairman Archie Norman and chief executive Steve Rowe, who are desperately trying to cut costs as the company's financial peformance plummets.

Since turnround specialist Archie Norman was named M&S chairman past year, however, the pace of restructuring has increased.

In total the high street giant has 1,035 stores in the United Kingdom, 300 large one containing clothing, home and food, 696 food halls and 39 outlet centres.

That is the second-highest level of any company in the UK's benchmark FTSE 100 index.

Making the announcement today, a spokesman said more and more sales were moving online which has contributed to the decision. Should these stores close, all colleagues would be redeployed or offered redeployment at other stores before redundancy is considered, M&S said.

M&S has been losing share for more than two decades after achieving its peak clothing market share of 13.5% in the United Kingdom in 1997. Its position seemed unassailable, but since then its market share has been on a declining trend, Hinton explains.

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

GlobalData has forecast that its clothing market share will be 7.6% this year - nearly halving in two decades - despite opening more stores selling clothing, homewares and food under the one roof.

"We've seen a much better retention rate than we expected", M&S said.

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