Marks and Spencer has announced that over the next five years it will have 60 fewer clothing and home stores, of which 30 will close down. The rest will be turned into food stores and chief executive Steve Rowe also plans to open 200 new Simply Food shops as part of turnaround plans. The retailer said it would also exit 10 loss-making international markets.
Its announcements came as M&S reported falling sales and profits in the six months to the end of September. Mr. Rowe said of the store closures: "This is about building a sustainable, more profitable business that's relevant for our customers in a digital shopping age." With new food stores opening, "more towns will have an M&S," he told the BBC.
He added that customers still "love" M&S, but it can do better. However, its half-year results show the problems facing Mr. Rowe, who took over in April.
Clothing sales in existing stores fell 5.9%, while its stronger performing food sales also fell 0.9%. Pre-tax profit dropped 88% to £25.1m, partly due to higher pension costs.
The retailer has over 300 full-range sites, which sell clothing, homeware and food, and nearly 600 Simply Food shops in the UK. M&S will also be closing 53 stores in China, France, Belgium, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. The retailer said it would start a consultation with about 2,100 employees about those proposals.