M&S to shut 32 more stores as it shifts away from town centres

The retailer expects profits to flatline, blaming Brexit, Russia and local and national government policy 

Marks & Spencer said it will close 32 more stores, saying many have "lost impetus", blaming Brexit, the war in Ukraine and local and national government policies. 

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The retail chain will shift from multi-floor town centre buildings to focus on the edge of town sites with better access and car parking, as they said it was facing "increasing cost pressures and consumer uncertainty". 

This new move sees plans for 15 new full-line stores and 40 food outlets over the next three years. 

Why is Marks & Spencer making this change? 

A decision to fully exit Russia after pausing deliveries due to the war in Ukraine will cost the retailer £31m, and new EU tariffs and border costs relating to Brexit cost £29.6m in profits and £15m in lost trade, according to the Guardian. 

Marks & Spencer is planning to reduce space devoted to clothing and homewares further, as sales were down by almost a quarter compared to four years ago, yet space had dropped by 10%. 

The retailer will raise £200m by selling old stores, as it said sales in city centres were down 14%, and in high streets, sales were down 8% on pre-pandemic levels. 

Their stores in travel hubs, such as airports and stations were down 39%, largely due to pandemic restrictions and people making the shift towards working from home. 

In retail parks, sales rose 22%. 

What did Marks & Spencer say?

In a statement, M&S said: "We recognise that in an omni-channel world, ease of shopping and fast access is critical to competitiveness, and in many cases we believe the town centre locations have lost impetus as a result of failed local authority or government policy. As a result, a high proportion, but not all, of our relocations are to the edge of town."

Meanwhile, sales at its joint venture with Ocado were down as shoppers returned to buying groceries in stores, as sales declined by 8% in the quarter to 25 April. 

While Ocado said it has benefitted from a rise in customer numbers, which have grown 12% in the year, it highlighted that "the rate of growth has slowed as consumers respond to short-term discounts and promotions”, spurred on by the cost-of-living crisis.