M&S halves its leasing team amid continued consolidation

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Marks & Spencer has culled its leasing team as it pushed ahead with streamlining its store estate in efforts to “build flexibility”.

According to Property Week, the department store has halved its leasing agents, cutting ties with CBRE, Cheetham & Mortimer and DWR while retaining a relationship with Savills, MMX Retail and McMillen Wilson.

The move marks the latest in M&S’s drive to boost efficiency in its operations and shed any dead weight.

It follows news earlier this week that it was proposing 351 job cuts across a range of roles, including 182 section managers, 115 operations managers and 54 visual managers, just days after it announced further store closures could be on the cards at its AGM.

“We have been restructuring the business recently both internally and externally and have consolidated our agency team down to make the process faster,” M&S property director Steven Bennett told Property Week.

He added that the retailer’s store closure programme, which is set to see 100 clothing and home stores close their shutters by 2022, could see it simply replace underperforming stores with new stores in better locations.

“There are a certain number of closures, but there are also a lot of towns where we think M&S would have a fantastic future, but we are not in the right location at the moment or we may need to downsize,” Bennett said.

“We will open new stores, but finding those right locations takes time. We will have fewer stores, but we will focus on making them more inspirational, more modern and more digital.

“We are trying to build flexibility into our estate. We are signing shorter leases on our food stores so we will generally not sign leases of more than 10 years.”

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