Irish stores safe as Marks & Spencer announce big global closures

New CEO Steve Rowe has announced a major restructuring of the retail group...

Marks & Spencer has renewed its commitment to its Irish operations, as it confirms the closure of a host of stores around the world. 

The UK retailer has announced a major restructuring this morning under new chief executive Steve Rowe, in tandem with its half year results.

The group plans to close 53 wholly-owned stores across 10 different countries, including 10 outlets in China and seven in France. However, it says it will continue to operate its 17 wholly-owned stores here, in Hong Kong and the Czech Republic due to their profitability, strong brand awareness and loyal customers.

A five-year plan to improve productivity in the core UK market where it operates more than 900 stores has also been unveiled. Marks & Spencer will reposition up to 25% of all its troubled clothing and homeware retail space but continue to roll out more of its profitable Simply Food stores, actually increase its total number of outlets over that period.

In the half-year to the end of September, group revenues remained flat at just under £5bn but underlying profits fell by nearly 19% due to lower Clothing and Home sales. Factoring in pension charges, there was a massive overall fall in profits of 88%, with the £25m down from £216m for the same period a year ago.

The slump largely related to pension charges but underlying profits were also down, by 19%, thanks to lower clothing and home sales.

Rowe commented:

"Over the next five years we will transform our UK estate with around 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. 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."