Final day of trading for several Marks & Spencer stores

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Seven Marks & Spencer clothing stores will close their doors for the last time on Saturday as the high street chain pushes ahead with a radical transformation plan.

The retailer announced in May that it plans to close 100 stores by 2022, putting hundreds of jobs at risk.

As part of the business restructuring, M&S will also be looking to reduce its costs by £350 million by 2021.

On Saturday, clothing stores in Northampton, Falkirk, Kettering, Newmarket, New Mersey Speke, Stockton and Walsall will trade for a final day – while a Simply Food in Bayswater, London, will also close.

CITY Marks
(PA Graphics)

Three more, in East Kilbride, Clacton, and Holloway Road in London, are expected to close at a later date.

Shoppers at the store in Speke, Liverpool, said the store needed to improve its range to stay competitive.

Emma Macauley, 44, from nearby Hale, said: “I think the café has been keeping this store going.

“The clothing range is dated and limited, there’s not enough choice and with the other stores here like River Island and Outfit there’s just too much competition.”

Cheryl Hicks added: “There is nothing for the younger generation.

“I’m 58 and I don’t even buy my clothes in there.”

But Emma Thomas, 23, from Ruthin, North Wales, said she was surprised the retailer was closing stores.

“I think it has improved in the last five years, I used to think it was just for my mum and nan,” she said.

“I wouldn’t go anywhere else for lingerie.”

Her partner Matt Stevenson, 24, said: “I wouldn’t shop there for clothing, I don’t think it’s for my age.”

A Simply Food store in the New Mersey retail park will remain open but on Saturday there were empty displays in the windows of the clothing store and signs told shoppers it was the last day of trading.

Sharon Moore, 43, said: “I think online shopping is probably 80% of the reason why they’ve had to close stores.

“People are lazy and don’t want to come out shopping.”

The latest round of closures comes after 21 stores were wound up by the chain.

On Friday, Steve Rowe, M&S chief executive, said: “There are likely to be more redundancies.”

However, he said 86% of the staff working in the stores closed so far had been relocated within the business.

The firm’s chairman Archie Norman, said the size of the company’s store portfolio had become “a drag on our performance”.

“For me the results in the next two years aren’t the most important thing. We are here to deliver a profitable, growing business in five years’ time,” Mr Norman said.

“This is probably the biggest turnaround in UK retail.”

Steve Rowe bonus
Marks & Spencer chief executive Steve Rowe (M&S/PA)

He said M&S faced competition on many fronts, both from online retailers, and from discounters such as Aldi, Lidl and Primark.

To improve its operations, M&S has been moving off its old IT systems and has been shutting warehouses in its distribution network.

M&S has already announced that it is closing its warehouses in Warrington and Neasden, and Mr Rowe said on Tuesday that the future of the Donnington warehouse was under review.

M&S reported 62.1% fall in pre-tax profit to £66.8 million in the year to March 31 as it was dragged down by £321.1 million in costs linked to store closures.

It is also is 300 jobs in management roles throughout the business as it seeks to reduce its costs.

It includes store, commercial and operations managers – and is reducing the number of section managers.

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