Marks and Spencer closes four stores in the Republic of Ireland

Marks and Spencer store sign Marks and Spencer employs about 2,800 people in Ireland

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Marks and Spencer has announced it is to close four stores in the Republic of Ireland, with the loss of 180 jobs.

It said its shops in Mullingar, County Westmeath, Naas, County Kildare and Tallaght and Dun Laoghaire, both in County Dublin, were unprofitable.

In a statement, the company said the stores would close "within the coming weeks resulting in 180 redundancies".

It added that it has agreed outline plans for a new "flagship" store in Limerick that would create 250 jobs.

The proposed 72,000 sq ft store is to be built in a shopping mall on the site of Limerick's former Parkway Valley, subject to planning consent, and the company hopes it will open in 2016.

'Very challenging'

Jonathan Glenister, head of M&S Ireland, said: "M&S remains fully committed to its Irish business.

"We have traded here for the last 35 years, employ around 2,800 people and have extraordinarily loyal Irish customers, but the last few years have been very challenging.

"During this time our Republic of Ireland business has been under continuous review and we have made savings and found efficiencies wherever possible.

"However, the retail sector outlook has not improved and we have to act now to protect the long term good of the company. We have carried out a strategic store review and it is with regret that we are now closing four unprofitable stores."

The announcement was made on the same day that Marks and Spencer said it was closing its distribution centre at Mallusk in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, putting 140 jobs at risk.

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