The latest wave of stores targeted for closure as part of a major re-organisation have been announced by Marks & Spencer.
More than 1000 staff will be affected if the 17 stores do close as the chain presses on with its long-term plan to reduce its High Street presence.
Mark & Spencer have already closed 30 – with eight more recently announced – out of a planned reduction of 100 stores and the latest tranche in the firing line are:
- Junction One Antrim Outlet
- Luton Arndale
- Sutton Coldfield
The news comes days after Marks & Spencer announced that like-for-like sales – excluding new stores – were down 2.2 per cent in the 13 weeks to December 29.
Sales of food were down by 2.1 per cent and clothing and home sales fell by 2.4 per cent.
Chief executive Steve Rowe said falling consumer confidence, mild weather, Black Friday sales and competitor discounting had made November “very challenging.”
The company has set a target of moving a third of its sales online and says it will need fewer stores as a result, with those that remain in the best locations.
No stores will close until affected staff have been consulted and the company said it hoped to keep as many of them on as possible.
Marks & Spencer retail, operations and property director Sacha Berendji said: “Proposing to close stores is never easy, for our colleagues, customers or the local community.
“Where we have closed stores, we are continuing to see an encouraging number of customers choosing other nearby locations and shopping on M&S.com.”
The GMB union’s national officer said the Government needed to do more to support the UK’s struggling retail sector and its staff.
He added: “Employees across the sector will be very worried about their job security and wondering which retailer will be next to shed jobs or close down.
“This government has done nothing to help retailers and the low-paid, hard-working employees who are at the sharp end.”
Marks & Spencer announced its closure programme in late 2016 and it is due to be concluded by 2022 at the latest.