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M&S to close 60 clothing and home stores but grow its Simply Food chain

Published:  08 November, 2016

Marks & Spencer is planning a major re-structure to focus on its food and drinks offering, after profits plunged 88%.

Marks & Spencer is planning a major re-structure to focus on its food and drinks offering, after profits plunged 88%.

The retailer has made a number of "tough decisions" recently, revealing plans to downsize or replace around 45 shops to Simply Food outlets following disappointing losses in its home and clothing stores.

In its half-year results released today, profits before tax for the six weeks to October 1, 2016 were £25m compared to £216m for the same period the years before.

The long-standing high street retailer plans to close 60 home and clothing stores - a 10% reduction - and instead concentrate on "fewer, better" locations.

Market trends are both working for against M&S at the moment, particularly in food and clothing.

While shoppers are heading online more often to buy clothes, changes in consumer buying habits are driving growth in its food chain.

Martin Lane, of price comparison site Money, said "It's not all doom and gloom" however.

"What is going their way is the changing way we shop for food. There is a growing pattern that consumers shop for staple foods in discount stores and then treat themselves to upmarket goods in the likes of Waitrose and M&S. Their strategy to turn their clothes stores into food stores is definitely a good one," he said.

Bosses said M&S would have more stores overall after the switch-around, with plans still in place to open more than 200 Simply Food outlets by the end of the 2018/19 financial year.

CEO Steve Rowe explained: "Over the next five years we will transform our UK estate with c.60 fewer clothing and home stores, whilst continuing to increase the number of our Simply Food stores. In the future, we will have more inspiring stores in places where customers want to shop that complement our growing digital offer. "These are tough decisions, but vital to building a future M&S that is simpler, more relevant, multi-channel and focused on delivering sustainable returns."