M&S to ‘accelerate store closure plan’

Marks and Spencer is set to accelerate plans to close 100 stores by the end of 2020, amid expectations the retailer will post a fall in pre-tax profits when it releases full-year results on Wednesday.

The High Street retailer has already shut almost 50 of the 100 stores earmarked for closure as part of its restructuring plan, which initially envisaged the closure of 100 stores by 2022, as the business focusses on its digital transformation to meet a shift in demand from customers for online shopping.

City analysts are expecting the company to post pre-tax profits of around £520 million on Wednesday, marking a 10 per cent fall on last year, according to a report in the Sunday Times.

A total of 14 M&S stores have closed since the end of March, bringing the total number to 63 in two years. The company announced plans to close a further 17 stores in January, which could see 1,000 jobs cut.

The retailer set itself a target of shifting at least a third of sales to the M&S website, ahead of the formal announcement in February of a £750 million joint venture with Ocado to launch a dedicated online food delivery business.

The latest results from the company showed UK sales down 2.7 per cent to £2.7 billion in the 13 weeks to 29 December.

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