Marks and Spencer is planning to close 14 stores and cut hundreds of jobs.Six shops will close by April, including Birkenhead, Bournemouth and Durham. Staff have been offered jobs in nearby stores.The closure of another eight shops has been proposed, which will affect 468 staff.It follows a disappointing Christmas period for M&S, when sales of both food and clothing fell.”Stores will always be an integral part of our customer experience, alongside M&S.com, but we have to ensure we have the right offer in the right locations,” said Sacha Berendji, the retail operations director.The six stores to close in April are Birkenhead, Bournemouth, Durham, Fforestfach in Swansea, Putney and Redditch.The eight stores earmarked for closure are: Andover, Basildon, Bridlington, Denton outlet store, Falmouth, Fareham, Keighley and Stockport. There will be a period of consultation over those shops.Mr Berendji said M&S would “endeavour” to offer all staff affected an alternative job but added that “in some cases we may have to consider redundancy”.’Vulnerable’ storesRetail analyst Steve Dresser tweeted: “It’s never nice for people to lose their jobs, but a shake up is sorely needed at M&S.”He said some stores had become unprofitable due to rising business rates and rising staff costs.He added that city centre food shops were “really vulnerable” due to a lack of parking.”Councils are cash strapped and many have zero retail strategy bar charging more for parking. The lack of car parking means that the basket size is lower (you can’t carry it all),” Mr Dresser said in a tweet.He added that click and collect, which has helped other retailers, was less popular with M&S customers as they tended to be older and less keen on that sort of service.The city centre locations of many M&S stores also makes click and collect less attractive, according to Mr Dresser.In November M&S said it would speed up plans to close 30 stores and Wednesday’s announcement reflected that greater urgency.It also announced plans to open just 36 Simply Food shops over the next six months – far fewer than originally expected.M&S has 1,025 stores in the UK: 302 clothing, home and food shops; 684 food-only stores; and 39 outlets.
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