Once the monarch of the British high street, Marks & Spencer is struggling to escape the closing-down curse. Retailers have been dropping like flies amid an abundance of articles on administration announcements. Even a pioneer brand like M&S is having to take drastic measures to pull through in this shifting economy. Continuing with the plan to close 100 shops by 2022, today they announced the next wave of closures for 17 unlucky locations. At this point, the future is rocky for many Marks & Spencer stores.
Why is Marks & Spencer closing stores?
Changes to shopper habits have been hitting the high street hard, and sadly Marks & Spencer is no exception. Their profits are declining for the second year in a row. In response to dwindling sales, M&S is in the process of shutting down around a third of their home and clothing stores. They are hoping to move this portion of sales online instead, and keep stores in more successful locations. In some instances, food-only M&S outlets will replace the stores that close. Property director Sacha Berendji says that these closures are not easy, but they are vital to saving M&S. Loyal customers will move to nearby stores, and M&S can work on making its stores relevant again instead of seeming outdated. Worryingly, though, they might not stop at closing only 100 stores.
Which Marks & Spencer stores are closing down?
Since the first announcements of store closures, 30 branches have already closed. Marks & Spencer has gone gentle into that good night in Andover, Basildon, Birkenhead, Bournemouth, Bridlington, Clacton, Covent Garden, Darlington, Dover, Durham, Falkirk, Fareham, Fforestfach, Keighley, Kettering, New Mersey Speke Shopping Park, Newmarket, Northampton, Portsmouth, Putney, Redditch, Slough, Stockport, Stockton, Walsall, Warrington, and Wokingham. Luckily for the people of Crewe, Greenock, and Newry, the M&S stores relocated. Another 8 stores affected by a previous announcement include East Kilbride, Edgware Broadwalk, Falmouth, Holloway Road, and Kirkcaldy. The Llandudno and St. Helens stores will be relocating, while a Food Hall will open in Wigan at Robin Retail Park. The latest announcement states that the following stores are closing in the next year:
- Antrim (the Junction)
- Ashford, Kent
- Luton Arndale
- Sutton Coldfield
What does this mean for Marks & Spencer staff?
This most recent round of closures apparently puts over 1,000 jobs at risk at the named stores. The previous closures already resulted in around 300 job losses. Marks & Spencer say that they are hoping to retain as many of their employees as possible and redeploy them in new roles. So far, this programme will impact almost 2,000 shop staff out of more than 70,000 in total. M&S will be consulting with the employees of the closing stores to try to find ways to keep them open. The stores will not close until these consultations are complete. It’s not over yet for M&S staff, but their representative union USDAW (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) says that M&S is “salami slicing” and it is causing stress and uncertainty for their employees.