Marks & Spencer has confirmed plans to close up to 14 stores, putting nearly 500 jobs at risk in what it said were “vital” changes for its future.
The six stores to close are in Birkenhead, Bournemouth, Durham, Fforestfach in Swansea, Putney in south-west London and Redditch. They will shut by the end of April. M&S said all staff in those stores would be moving to other nearby branches.
Consultation is under way on the closure of a further eight stores. They employ a total of 468 staff, who will be offered redeployment to other shops or redundancy. Those stores are in Andover, Basildon, Bridlington, Denton (an Outlet store east of Manchester), Falmouth, Fareham, Keighley and Stockport.
The M&S closures follow store management cuts at Tesco and Sainsbury’s, which have put thousands of jobs at risk. Debenhams and House of Fraser have also revealed plans to close or downsize stores as high streets struggle to draw shoppers away from the comfort of the sofa.
Sacha Berendji, director of retail at #Marks & Spencer, said: “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.
“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,” he said.
The store closures are part of a plan to shut 30 UK stores and convert or replace 45 more with food-only outlets as M&S cuts back on floor space devoted to clothing.