Marks & Spencer has announced plans to close down 14 stores in the latest phase of its turnaround plan, plunging hundreds of jobs into uncertainty.
Six stores will close by April, including Bournemouth, Birkenhead, Durham, Fforestfach, Redditch, and Putney, south-west London.
Staff have been offered jobs in nearby stores.
A further eight stores are proposed for closure: Andover, Basildon, Bridlington, Falmouth, Fareham, Keighley as well as Stockport and Denton in Greater Manchester.
M&S said the 468 colleagues affected by the proposals will now enter a period of consultation.
It added that should these stores close, in the first instance all colleagues would be redeployed or offered redeployment at other stores before redundancy is considered.
M&S has also reassessed and reduced its Simply Food opening programme, and now only plans to open a total of 36 over the next six months, creating 1200 new management and customer assistant roles.
Meanwhile, two stores are due to relocate – Newry in Northern Ireland, and Dover in Kent – which will also convert from a clothing and food store to an M&S Foodhall.
“We’re committed to transforming M&S for our customers, colleagues and shareholders,” M&S retail director Sacha Berendji said in a statement.
“Stores will always be an integral part of our customer experience, alongside M&S.com, but we have to ensure we have the right offer in the right locations.
“We don’t want any colleagues to leave M&S and we will work with each colleague individually on what is best for them as we endeavour to give everyone a role. However, we accept in some cases we may have to consider redundancy.
“We believe these changes are vital for the future of M&S and we will continue to accelerate the programme, taking tough but necessary decisions, as we focus on making M&S special.”
The news comes after the retail giant posted a mixed bag of results in its key Christmas period with a fourth straight quarter of like-for-like sales decline in its food division and yet another steep decline in sales in its embattled clothing arm.
It is also the latest in a raft of announcements since M&S unveiled its half-year report last November and re-set chief executive Steve Rowe’s five-year turnaround strategy and store estate scheme.
The strategy – initially announced in November 2016 and accelerated when retail veteran Archie Norman joined as chairman a year later – includes plans to reposition around 25 per cent of M&S clothing and home space through a combination of closures, downsizes, relocations and conversions to food-only stores.
In 2017, M&S confirmed the closure of around eight of its stores – including the Covent Garden branch in London – while downsizing or relocated five others.
In addition, since Norman joined there has been a major reshuffle of M&S’s senior ranks, plans to outsource more than half of its 430 IT roles under a technology overhaul, and the closure of its Neasden distribution centre to open a new one in Welham Green that will service clothing and home stores.
M&S currently has 1025 stores in the UK: 302 of which are clothing, home and food stores, 684 food-only and 39 outlets.