M&S profits plunge 62pc amid sweeping store closure plans

Out with the old in with the new

Out with the old in with the new

Marks & Spencer (M&S), one of the best known names in United Kingdom retail, first said it would reduce the amount of store space devoted to clothing and homewares in 2016, shortly after company lifer Steve Rowe became chief executive.

The changes to the business follow the continued shift of clothing and home sales to online, development of global competition, growth of home delivery in food and continued rise of the discounters.

Shares in M&S have fallen 26 percent over the previous year and the firm is in danger of being booted out of the prestigious FTSE 100 index.

Marks & Spencer (M&S) today announced that it has dropped prices on 200 food lines in its "biggest ever" price investment in the Republic of Ireland.

Marks & Spencer has been condemned to a second straight year of falling profits after the high street giant racked up a huge bill for store closures, as it prepares to shut 100 shops over the next four years and faces relegation from the blue chip FTSE 100 index.

The company says the closures are vital to secure its future.

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"We have been clear about our plans to accelerate our store closure program and the action we must take to build a business with sustainable, profitable growth", an M&S spokesperson said.

"For investors a dividend yield of over 6% is an attractive stopgap, but at the moment Steve Rowe's promise to make M&S special again requires a leap of faith", said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Clothing and home revenue fell 1.4% and like-for-like sales decreased 1.9% amid a tough retail market. Admitting the business had become top-heavy and too "corporate", M&S has recently separated its Food and Clothing & Home teams. Hoping to fix its structural problems by July, Rowe added that the new M&S is "tackling transforming our culture to make M&S a faster, lower cost, more commercial, more digital business".

"These changes come with short-term costs which are reflected in today's results". "In both businesses we need to revitalise our ranges and reassert our reputation for value for money".

The company is looking to improve its website, as well as investing to increase and improve e-commerce capacity, to support its ambition of doubling the online share of its Clothing & Home sales to over 33%.

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