Marks & Spencer swings axe on stores with over 450 jobs at risk

Over 450 jobs at Marks & Spencer are at risk after the retailer announced plans to close eight stores as part of a restructuring programme.

The high street giant is proposing to shut stores in Andover, Basildon, Bridlington, Denton, Falmouth, Fareham, Keighley and Stockport, with 468 staff entering consultation.

Another six stores will close by the end of April in Birkenhead, Bournemouth, Durham, Fforestfach, Putney and Redditch, but all colleagues at those outlets will be redeployed to nearby stores.

The move is part of chief executive Steve Rowe's five-year turnaround plan.

His tenure has seen a string of changes at M&S, including a raft of shop closures and a withdrawal from international markets as the chief executive attempts to rejuvenate the ailing retailer.

M&S recently said it would cease operations at its London distribution centre, putting 380 jobs at risk, and outsource more than half of its 430-strong IT team in a move that will cut costs by around £30 million a year.

Sacha Berendji, director of retail at M&S, said: "We're committed to transforming M&S for our customers, colleagues and shareholders.

"Stores will always be an integral part of our customer experience, alongside M&, but we have to ensure we have the right offer in the right locations.

"We don't want any colleagues to leave M&S and we will work with each colleague individually on what is best for them as we endeavour to give everyone a role. However, we accept in some cases we may have to consider redundancy.

"We believe these changes are vital for the future of M&S and we will continue to accelerate the programme, taking tough but necessary decisions, as we focus on making M&S special."

The retailer also said that it has "reassessed and reduced" its Simply Food opening programme, and now only plans to open a total of 36 owned and franchise stores over the next six months.