M&S stores in Shropshire avoid the axe - for now

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Marks and Spencer announced back in November 2016 that they were looking to seriously shake up the lowest 100 performing stores across the country with closures or big changes.

The British retailer says these closures are necessary for the evolvement of the brand with 14 stores to close over the next year. Alongside relocations, conversions, downsizes and the introduction of concessions, these closures will radically reshape M&S's Clothing & Home space.

Sacha Berendji, retail, operations and property director at Marks & Spencer said: "Closing stores isn't easy but it is vital for the future of M&S". "Where we have closed stores, we are seeing an encouraging number of customers moving to nearby stores".

Retail veteran Archie Norman, who took over as M&S chairman previous year, said the retailer has been "drifting" and promised to speed up changes.

Then in November a year ago, three months after retail veteran Archie Norman joined as chairman, the firm said it would speed-up the programme.

M&S faces unrelenting competition both in clothing and food on the high street and online, while efforts to revitalise its business are being hampered by an ongoing squeeze on consumers' spending power.

'Usdaw has thousands of members working for Marks & Spencer and the staff now need, more than ever, the representation and support of an independent trade union.

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Shares in M&S declined by as much as 3% on Tuesday following the announcement, making it the worst performing stock of the day on London's benchmark FTSE 100 index.

Online shopping accounts for 22% of non-food retail sales in the United Kingdom, according to the British Retail Consortium.

Meanwhile, the Clacton-on-Sea mixed clothing and food store, employing 57, is set to close - but a new store is being launched at nearby Walton-on-the-Naze in late 2018, and it is expected most will transfer to it, or to Colchester.

M&S had in November 2016 launched a five-year overhaul of its United Kingdom stores amid fierce competition from supermarkets and budget garment chain Primark - as well as online giants like Amazon.

She said: "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".

"To make its space more productive M&S has to produce a compelling offer showcased in an inspiring environment", Ms Hinton said.

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