M&S set to close up to 30 stores

Marks & Spencer has reported a loss of £201m in the 52 weeks to 27 March 2021, down from a profit of £67m in the previous year.

The results reflect a year impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, with clothing and home sales down 31%. Performance improved in the second half as online growth made greater inroads into the store sales decline, M&S said.

Food sales increased thanks to the retailer’s online delivery tie-up with Ocado, which added £78m of profit.

The chain currently has 254 full-line stores, selling clothing and home ranges as well as food, and is aiming to cut this number to around 180.

As part of its turnaround plan, about 30 stores will close over the next decade and another 80 will be relocated to a “food only” store or another full-line store in a better location, or merged with nearby shops.

The 137-year-old group will also open 17 new or expanded full-line stores over the next two years, including a number of former Debenhams sites.

“We are committed to stores and believe they can be a true source of competitive advantage,” chief executive Steve Rowe told investors and journalists on a conference call.

“But they need to be the right stores, in the right location, with the right services.”