M&S announces 30 store closures after tumbling to £201m loss

Credit: PA

Marks & Spencer is to close 30 of its stores after tumbling to a £201 million loss.

The announcement follows pandemic store closures and bosses said the business has moved to the “next phase” of its transformation plan.

The 30 planned closures will be part of a shake-up of around 110 stores, with 80 of these sites set to merge or relocate - the retailing giant said it plans to open 17 new stores.

The historic retailer tumbled to a £201.2 million pre-tax loss for the year to March 27 after its clothing and home business was particularly hammered by pandemic restrictions.

It follows a £67.2 million statutory profit in the previous year.

The group told shareholders that total revenues dropped after this slump offset an improvement in its food operations.

M&S chief executive Steve Rowe Credit: M&S/PA

It reported that food like-for-like revenues increased by 1.3% over the past year, but the company saw its clothing and home business report a 31.5% slump despite 53.9% online growth.

Clothing and home operations saw a £129.4 million operating loss, although M&S said the performance improved in the second half of the year.

These sales have also returned to growth since the reopening of all stores on April 12, M&S said.

Meanwhile, the company said it was buoyed by its food business, which saw 6.9% growth excluding its hospitality and franchise arms.

It also hailed a strong integration with Ocado after the two companies launched their online grocery joint venture last September.

The retailer said its balance sheet is also “stronger than expected” following the impact of the pandemic.

Steve Rowe, chief executive at Marks & Spencer, said: “In a year like no other we have delivered a resilient trading performance, thanks in no small part to the extraordinary efforts of our colleagues.

“In addition, by going further and faster in our transformation through the Never the Same Again programme, we moved beyond fixing the basics to forge a reshaped M&S.

“The transformation has moved to the next phase.”