UK retailer M&S has confirmed plans to close over 100 stores by 2022 as part of a wider strategy to reshape its UK store estate and increase online sales.
The clothes and food retailer said it wanted to take at least a third of its sales online by extending the programme of store closures initiated in November 2016.
'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,' said Sacha Berendji, retail, operations and property director at Marks & Spencer.
'Closing stores isn't easy but it is vital for the future of M&S. 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.'
To date, 21 stores have already shut and another 14 Clothing & Home store closures were unveiled this week. Alongside relocations, conversions, downsizes and the introduction of concessions, the retailer's portfolio will shed a total of 100 stores by 2022.
M&S is entering a period of consultation with 626 employees affected by the latest tranche of closures.
The retailer said that its stores in the future would be larger, digitally enabled, better located and more 'inspirational' for customers. They will be supported by online channels and a network of food stores offering customers next-day collect in store for Clothing & Home purchases.
M&S reported on Wednesday a fall of 62% in pre-tax profits in 2017 to £66.8 mln (€76.1 mln), affected in part by some £321.1 mln of charges relating to store closures and declining margins on food sales.
'The first phase of our transformation plan, restoring the basics, is now well under way and the actions taken have increased the velocity of change running through our business. These changes come with short term costs which are reflected in todays results,' said Steve Rowe, Marks & Spencer CEO.