People walking past Marks and Spencer store

Marks and Spencer has named the next wave of stores earmarked for closure in its reorganisation plan, including those in Huddersfield, Hull and Luton.

The 17 proposed closures are part of the clothing, homeware and food retailer’s five-year plan to shut more than 100 stores by 2022.

The latest plans will affect 1,045 staff, who will now be involved in a consultation process.

So far, 30 stores have closed and another eight have already been named.

The company wants to move a third of its sales online and plans to have fewer stores in better locations.

The company says it will now consult staff and listen to any alternative suggestions from them for how to keep the stores open.

No stores will close until this process has been completed and, in a statement, the company said it had “the intention of retaining as many people as possible”.

The 17 stores which M&S proposes to close are: Ashford, Barrow, Bedford, Boston, Buxton, Cwmbran, Deal, Felixstowe, Huddersfield, Hull, Junction One Antrim Outlet, Luton Arndale, Newark, Northwich, Rotherham, Sutton Coldfield and Weston-super-Mare.

Map of locations for proposed Marks & Spencer store closures

The closure programme has already affected 1,891 people, with 1,591 of them being redeployed to other parts of the business.

Sacha Berendji, M&S’s retail, operations and property director, said “Proposing to close stores is never easy, for our colleagues, customers or the local community, but it is vital for the future of M&S.

“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.”

Gary Carter, national officer of the GMB Union, said: “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 share price graph

The latest proposals are part of the M&S’s store estate programme, which it first announced in November 2016.

The 30 stores that have already closed are: Andover, Basildon, Birkenhead, Bournemouth, Bridlington, Clacton, Covent Garden, Crewe (relocation), Darlington, Dover, Durham, Falkirk, Fareham, Fforestfach, Greenock (relocation), Keighley, Kettering, New Mersey Speke Shopping Park, Newmarket, Newry (relocation), Northampton, Portsmouth, Putney, Redditch, Slough, Stockport, Stockton, Walsall, Warrington and Wokingham.

The eight stores that have previously been announced as set to close are: East Kilbride, Edgware Broadwalk, Falmouth, Holloway Road, Kirkcaldy, Llandudno (relocation), St Helens (relocation) and Wigan (Food hall opening at Robin Retail Park).

M&S saw its sales drop over the Christmas holiday period.

In a trading statement published last week, it said like-for-like sales, which strip out the impact of new stores, were down 2.2% in the 13 weeks to 29 December. Food sales fell 2.1% and its clothing and home sales division slid 2.4%.

Source: BBC

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