M&S to axe 100 stores and slow food expansion

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Profit before tax and adjusting items was down 5.4 per cent to £580.9 million from £613.8 million the year before. When Archie Norman was brought in as chairman in September, he said bluntly that "M&S has been drifting and under-fulfilling its promise not for five, 10 but for 15 years".

Marks and Spencer Group plc operates various retail stores.

M&S announced on Tuesday that it was accelerating its reorganisation with the closure of 100 United Kingdom stores by 2022. "Accelerated change is the only option", it said.

M&S is expected to report a second straight fall in annual profit on Wednesday, and with the retailer's shares down almost a quarter over the past year it is in danger of soon being booted out of the FTSE 100 index.

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

The radical change in how consumers buy their clothes today is why M&S is hanging by its fingernails onto the top spot as the UK's largest clothing retailer, where it now commands just over 8% of the market, and others have to make themselves distinctive in either inventory, price, or both, to stay ahead. Admitting the business had become top-heavy and too "corporate", M&S has recently separated its Food and Clothing & Home teams.

"There are a number of structural issues to address and we are taking steps towards fixing these", added Rowe.

M&S said its store closure programme would reduce costs by at least £250mln and provide a "platform for growth in later phases of our plan".

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The food, clothing and homewares retailer maintained its full-year dividend at 18.7p. "These changes come with short term costs which are reflected in today's results", said Steve Rowe, Marks & Spencer CEO in a statement.

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%.

The retailer said it has lost its share of younger family-age customers and larger households, and was looking to recover this with more stylish non-food lines and food products offering innovation, better value for money, and focused on more popular family foods.

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