M&S chiefs hit out at ‘axe’ list

Marks & Spencer plans to focus on its Simply Food outlets. Picture: Press Association.
Marks & Spencer plans to focus on its Simply Food outlets. Picture: Press Association.
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Bosses at Marks and Spencer have moved to deny media speculation about which of the high street giant’s store are earmarked for closure.

They confirmed today that 60 stores would be affected in a huge five-year shake-up designed to cut costs and boost profits but added that more food only stores would be opened.

Thirty will close while another 30 could see changes such as a cut back on clothing to concentrate on food.

But bosses refused to confirm or deny that a list of stores likely to be targeted, which includes the stores in Blackpool and Preston, published by retail analysts was correct.

The list from the Local Data Company pinpoints stores which it believes are vulnerable, either by being in a poor trading area or where there are more than one M&S open.

It’s blog also says that the company may look to move off the high streets and concentrate on out of town shopping centres in what would be a major blow to traditional town centre by losing a legendary British name which acts as an anchor for other shops by attracting shoppers.

The list also includes stores in Blackburn, Bolton, Barrow, Liverpool, Manchester, Warrington and Carlisle.

Blackpool’s store, on Victoria Street, is said by LDC to be vulnerable because it is one of the towns where the high street has suffered “serious decline.”

Today an M&S spokesman said they were disappointed with the media speculation adding: “I can confirm that we will close 30 stores. 60 is the number affected but with that we will be closing 30 stores and there are locations where we will have stores that we will convert to a food store.

“45 will be converted or downsized to Simply Food stores. The list that has appeared is pure speculation. It is not based on any M&S data and we have not published any locations.”

Matthew Hopkinson, director of the Local Data Company, said in a blog :“There are 35 towns and cities that have more than two M&S stores. If one removes the large urban centres such as London, there are 22 towns where one might question the need for two stores.”