M&S to close 14 Clothing & Home stores by 2019

Posted May 23, 2018

M&S shares have fallen 26 percent over the past year and it risks being booted out of the FTSE 100 index as it is now worth less than both online grocer Ocado and online fashion website ASOS, starkly illustrating how shopping habits have changed in only a decade.

The latest tranche of closures will affect 626 M&S employees. "Where we have closed stores, we are seeing an encouraging number of customers moving to nearby stores. which is why we're continuing to transform our estate with pace", said Sacha Berendji, the company's director for retail, operations and property.

United Kingdom costs were up 1.8% in the period due to costs relating to new space, inflation and channel shift. "Changes in the high street and migration online mean that we have to be decisive with our store estate, renewing and closing stores more quickly".

"If anything the need for change has become more urgent".

The company is looking to improve its website, as well as investing to increase and improve e-commerce capacity, to support its ambition of doubling the online share of its Clothing & Home sales to over 33%.

The retailer is trying to spur growth after disappointing trading over the Christmas period.

Clothing & Home revenue fell 1.4 percent to 3,741.1 million pounds for the 52 weeks to March 31, 2018, with like-for-like revenue down 1.9 percent. Worldwide sales fell 7.9 percent to 1,087.2 million pounds during the year while global profit before adjusting items more than doubled to 135.2 million pounds.

"That's reflected in the fact M&S is one of the most shorted stocks in the market, with 12% of the company's shares out on loan to those who have bet against it".

"For management to claim these costs are "exceptional" now looks a little rich, given that this is the third year in a row they have occurred, after the GBP200 million in so-called exceptionals in 2016 [.] M&S has now taken "exceptional" charges in each of the last seven years at total cost to the profit and loss account – and thus shareholders – of GBP1.4 billion", said AJ Bell's Mould.

This will see it come perilously close to losing its crown as Britain's largest clothing retailer to Primark. There are also M&S Simply Food stores Oswestry and Bridgnorth.

"To make its space more productive M&S has to produce a compelling offer showcased in an inspiring environment", Ms Hinton said.