Marks & Spencer is to permanently close dozens of stores after huge losses during the coronavirus pandemic.
The retailer recorded a £201.2 million pre-tax loss for the year to March 27 after its stores were hammered by lockdown restrictions.
It has now announced at least 30 shops will shut and 70 will be restructured as the brand attempts to bounce back from the damage.
A trading statement this morning said: ‘Our objective for the full line estate is to achieve a fully modernised core of 180 stores.
‘Our current best view of the future estate based on stress tests, regional modelling and current retail and efficiency requirements is as follows.
‘In around 30 locations which can no longer support a store we will close, recapturing trade in nearby stores or online.’
M&S currently has around 250 ‘full line’ stores which sell clothing, home and food ranges, but this will be cut down to around 180.
Some stores will become food only, others will move location and some shops will be merged into one.
It also said its balance sheet is ‘stronger than expected’ after the pandemic, despite the losses.
The company reported its food like-for-like revenues increased by 1.3% over the past year, but its clothing and home business recorded a 31.5% slump despite rapid online growth.
However, bosses at the retailer said its balance sheet is ‘stronger than expected’ following the impact of the pandemic.
Steve Rowe, chief executive officer at Marks & Spencer, also said that the business has moved to the ‘next phase’ of its transformation plan.
He said: ‘In a year like no other we have delivered a resilient trading performance, thanks in no small part to the extraordinary efforts of our colleagues.
‘In addition, by going further and faster in our transformation through the Never the Same Again programme, we moved beyond fixing the basics to forge a reshaped M&S.
‘With the right team in place to accelerate change in the trading businesses and build a trajectory for future growth, we now have a clear line of sight on the path to make M&S special again.’
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