Marks and Spencer to close six stores

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Marks and Spencer has named six stores which will close as part of chief executive Steve Rowe's plans to improve the business.

The company said 380 staff would be affected but they would be guaranteed redeployment at a nearby store.

M&S will also open 36 new stores over the next six months, creating more than 1,400 jobs.

Mr Rowe explained the six closures by saying that M&S was adapting to its customers' changing shopping habits.

"We are committed to adapting our business so that we stay in tune with our customers," he said.

The stores earmarked for closure are in Portsmouth, Slough, Warrington, and Wokingham, along with Simply Food stores in Monks Cross near York and Worksop.

In November, M&S said that following a "forensic review" of its store estate it was embarking on a five-year programme of store closures and openings.

The plans involve opening 200 new food-only stores, while selling clothing and homeware from 60 fewer stores.

Mr Rowe said on Thursday: "We will open new stores, some will reduce in size, some will move, some will close and others will convert to food-only."

Too many stores?

M&S currently has 959 UK stores: 304 sell the full range of clothing, homewares and food; 615 are food only; and 40 are outlet stores which sell stock at a discount.

Like many other retailers, the High Street chain is grappling with changing shopping habits.

Richard Hyman, a leading retail analyst, said there would be many more store closures to come on the UK High Street, as retailers were getting diminishing returns from their conventional shops.

"When you look at the massive expansion of online sales in the past 10-15 years, alongside the same number of physical stores, something has to give," he said.

In September, M&S announced it would cut hundreds of jobs at its head office in London.

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