British department store retailer Marks & Spencer will close a further 40 stores in its home market as it struggles to improve its bottom line.
According to reports in The Guardian newspaper, M&S will announce which of its 140-strong full-store network will close on Wednesday UK time, adding to the 20 already shuttered. The full stores stock both fashion and food.
Rationalising the store network was a key plank of a turnaround program announced 18 months ago by CEO Steve Rowe, which also included retrenching from overseas markets. Since then, the company’s Mainland China operations have been closed down and its profitable Hong Kong business divested to Middle East-based Al-Futtaim under a franchise arrangement.
Retail Gazette reports the decision to accelerate the closure program was prompted by early results from the closure of a store in Warrington town centre which led to increased sales in a newer off-high-street store nearby.
“We have been clear about our plans to accelerate our store closure program and the action we must take to build a business with sustainable, profitable growth,” an M&S spokesperson said.
On Wednesday, M&S is expected to report further under performance in its food arm, with analysts projecting a drop in sales, but an improved bottom line.