Marks & Spencer has angered local communities by confirming the closure of nine underperforming stores across the UK, and causing uncertainty over job security.
Stores in Birmingham, London and Wales will cease trading as the British retailer reacts to customers‘ shift to online spending and its stagnant non-food division sales.
On Wednesday, the retailer said a total of 430 workers would be affected, but would be offered jobs at nearby M&S stores.
The closures are the latest in a collection announced by high-profile British retailers. Tesco said in January it would be closing 43 stores, while Morrisons is shutting 23 stores and one in four Homebase shops are closing too, reports The Guardian.
Overall, M&S will close three traditional food and clothing shops, one Simply Food store, and five Outlet stores that sell end-of-season clothing.
Jack Dromey, Labour MP for Erdington, said the closures near Birmingham were “a blow to the local economy and its employees”.
Over 11,000 citizens have signed a petition in Aldershot, Hampshire since M&S announced in June that it was considering closing the store. “Save our M&S” banners popped up in the area; it‘s considered something of a landmark having been in Aldershot since 1922 and at its current location since 1927. If the store goes, the town will be without a Marks & Spencer.
The rise of M&S‘s food sales has allowed for the opening of several additional Simply Food stores, with the company pledging to open another 250 by 2017. According to the high street retail giant, the closure of the Outlet stores was linked to the company managing its stock levels more efficiently, which meant those stores had less to sell.
Hugo Adams, Director of property at M&S, said: “We are managing our store estate to ensure it is fit for the future of M&S and will continue to ensure we are in the best locations to serve our customers. We have a clear property strategy, which involves opening 250 new Simply Food stores and further improving the quality of our general merchandise space.”