Marks & Spencer to close 30 more stores after pandemic hits clothing and home sales

MARKS & Spencer plans to close 30 more shops after the coronavirus crisis hit its clothing and homeware sales.

The retailer made a £201million pre-tax loss for the year to March 27, compared to a £67million profit in the previous year.

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The retailer has already closed 59 clothing and food stores plus 15 food-only sites and eight outlets under previously-outlined plans.

The effect of the pandemic means it can now "move faster", it said in its annual results released this morning.

It plans to relocate 110 of its branches to either a food-only store or consolidate into other shops, while around 30 sites will close permanently.

M&S is yet to confirm where the latter stores are located, when they'll shut and how many workers are affected.

Retailers hit by covid

THE Covid-19 pandemic has pushed struggling retailers over the edge. Here are some other high-profile retail names hit by the virus outbreak:

Aldo shoe shop went into administration in May last year, resulting in five UK store closures.

Arcadia, the owner of Topshop and other top high street fashion brands, filed for administration in December.

Benson Beds fell into administration in June with Harveys Furniture and was quickly bought back by its owners in a prearranged deal.

Brighthouse fell into administration at the end of March 2020.

Cath Kidston went into administration in April last year and its online, franchise and wholesale arms were bought back by its owners resulting in the closure of 60 stores and 908 redundancies.

Debenhams collapsed in December last year – and closed its last stores earlier this month.

Harveys Furniture, the UK's second largest furniture retailer, fell into administration in June 2020.

Laura Ashley said in March 2020 it would permanently shut 70 stores and cut hundreds of jobs after appointing administrators.

LK Bennet brought in administrators earlier in 2020.

Oasis and Warehouse The British fashion brands fell into administration in mid-April last year after failing to find buyers, and online fashion group Boohoo said months later in June it was buying the brands but closing all stores.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Peacocks and Jaeger owners fell into administration in November last year, putting 4,716 jobs at risk.

Monsoon Accessorize went into administration in June 2020 and were then bought out of administration by their founder with plans to close 35 stores, make 545 staff redundant and seek rent cuts for remaining shops to try and stay afloat.

The retailer currently has around 254 full line stores – selling both food and clothes – but it aims to cut this down to 180 shops.

M&S said a number of these stores are in "long-term decline", and it could no longer justify future investment.

The newly announced closures are on top of the 110 stores earmarked for closure by 2022.

These are part of a radical restructuring plan first announced in 2016.

The retailer said its operations had been "severely constrained by the change in day-to-day living, the effects of social distancing and partial or full closure of large parts of our store estate".

In its clothing and home business, revenue slumped by 31.5%, as a string of lockdowns over the past year forced its stores to close.

Non-essential retailers, such as clothing shops, finally reopened on April 12 as they began to claw back £30billion in lost lockdown sales.

Meanwhile, M&S said it was boosted by its food business, which saw 6.9% growth in revenue.

M&S began a tie-up with Ocado in September, meaning the online grocer now delivers food from the posh supermarket.

Steve Rowe, chief executive at M&S, said: "In a year like no other we have delivered a resilient trading performance, thanks in no small part to the extraordinary efforts of our colleagues.

"With the right team in place to accelerate change in the trading businesses and build a trajectory for future growth, we now have a clear line of sight on the path to make M&S special again.

"The transformation has moved to the next phase."

It's estimated that over 43,000 retail jobs have been axed since the start of the pandemic as the high street struggles to survive.

Last year, both Topshop's owner Arcadia Group and Debenhams collapsed.

While Thorntons announced in March that it plans to shut all stores.

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