M&S to cut clothing and home stores and boost space for Simply Food

Marks and Spencer is to close 30 British stores and another 53 in overseas markets, including China and France.

The high street retailer said on Tuesday that it was planning to improve the productivity of its UK store estate with more emphasis on food. As a result, it will cut the amount of selling space devoted to clothing and home ranges, while opening more Simply Food stores.

The announcement came as the company reported its half-year results, showing a decrease in profit due to lower sales in its Clothing & Home business.

In total, the company will have 60 fewer clothing and home stores in five years’ time, but with new food stores opening it will have more stores overall.

“More towns will have an M&S,” chief executive Steve Rowe told the BBC.

About a quarter of the retailer’s UK floorspace will be affected by the changes.

“In the future, we will have more inspiring stores in places where customers want to shop that complement our growing digital offer,” Rowe said in a statement.

“Internationally, we propose to cease trading in 10 loss making owned markets, but intend to continue to develop our presence through our strong franchise partners.

“These are tough decisions, but vital to building a future M&S that is simpler, more relevant, multi-channel and focused on delivering sustainable returns.”

The decision to close 53 international M&S stores and focus on a franchise model overseas will cost the company £150m to £200m over the next 12 months but will eliminate annual losses of £45m.

The closures include all 10 stores in China, seven in France, and all stores in Belgium, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.