Marks & Spencer Group (LON:MKS) has unveiled plans to open 36 new UK stores over the next six months while closing six shops. The move is part of chief executive Steve Rowe’s strategy to improve the retailer’s fortunes which have been dragged down by the company’s underperforming clothing division.
Marks & Spencer’s share price has lost ground in London in today’s session, having shed 0.89 percent to 355.20p as of 13:35 BST, underperforming the broader UK market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index currently standing 0.07 percent lower at 7,109.61 points. The group’s shares have lost just under a fifth of their value over the past year, but have recovered more than one percent in the year-to-date.
Marks & Spencer announced today that it was planning to open 34 new Food stores, as well as two Clothing, Home and Food stores in the next six months, with the move expected to create more than 1,400 new customer assistant and management jobs. The blue-chip retailer, however, will also close six stores, with 380 staff to be guaranteed redeployment at a near-by store.
“Our customers’ shopping habits are changing,” the company’s chief executive Steve Rower explained in the statement. “Picking up food for now or tonight rather than doing one big shop or browsing and shopping online and collecting in store are great examples of this and we are committed to adapting our business so that we stay in tune with our customers.”
The move comes with M&S having started a five-year programme to improve its UK store estate. In November, the retailer signalled that it would close about 30 stores selling clothing, homewares and food and downsise or convert another 45 into food stores.