Hundreds of Marks & Spencer staff are poised to find out as early as today if their store is one of the 40 additional stores to be added to the retailer’s store closure programme.
According to The Sunday Times, M&S could shut an additional 40 of its “full line” stores — those selling both clothing and food — bringing it to a new total of 100.
The Guardian reports that 20 stores have already been shut down, affecting about 900 jobs so far.
The scheme is part of chief executive Steve Rowe’s turnaround plan that was first announced 18 months ago and the latest reports come as M&S prepares to unveil its full-year report on Wednesday.
The decision to take a more aggressive approach on the store closure programme was reportedly brought about after early results from the closure in Warrington town centre led to an increase in sales to a newer out-of-town store nearby.
“We have been clear about our plans to accelerate our store closure programme and the action we must take to build a business with sustainable, profitable growth,” an M&S spokesperson said.
The restructuring at M&S has been accelerated since Archie Norman was installed as chairman last November.
There has also been a shake-up of the retailer’s senior leadership team since he joined.
M&S is forecast to report further under performance in its food arm amid its annual figures, sparking concerns over the retailer’s health.
Analysts’ consensus estimates suggest food sales at the department store could have dropped by 0.2 per cent, while City analysts think they could have dropped as much as 1.1 per cent over the last year.
Underlying pre-tax profits are also set to drop six per cent to £573 million, but bottom line profits are expected to shoot up to £458 million from £176.4 million last year.
Should food sales decline again in the fourth quarter, its food arm will have seen an entire year of decline.
This will be concerning for the UK retail bellwether, which has relied on its food arm to drive revenue over the past two years.
Its clothing arm faces similar woes, and is set for a 1.1 per cent drop in the full-year report this week.