M&S bosses gear up for more store closures in bid to cut costs
The retailer’s chairman gave a frank appraisal of the business at its AGM.
Marks and Spencer bosses have warned that there could be more job losses at the high street chain as they push ahead with a radical transformation plan.
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The retailer announced in May that it plans to close 100 stores by 2022, putting hundreds of jobs at risk.
Speaking at M&S’ annual general meeting (AGM) on Tuesday, chairman Archie Norman said the size of the company’s store portfolio had become “a drag on our performance”.
Mr Norman told shareholders that most of the 100 stores would be shut within the next two years, adding: “I can’t tell you it won’t be the last.”
As part of the business restructuring, M&S will also be looking to reduce its costs by £350 million by 2021.
Steve Rowe, M&S’ chief executive, said: “There are likely to be more redundancies.”
However, he said 86% of the staff working in the stores closed so far had been relocated within the business.
“For me the results in the next two years aren’t the most important thing. We are here to deliver a profitable, growing business in five years’ time,” Mr Norman said.
“This is probably the biggest turnaround in UK retail.”
Mr Norman joined the business last year to help lead a turnaround, and said on Tuesday that he wanted to present the “unvarnished truth” about M&S’ prospects.
He said M&S faced competition on many fronts, both from online retailers, and from discounters such as Aldi, Lidl and Primark.
Mr Norman also pointed to various issues within the business, saying that organisational failures were partly to blame for M&S’ problems.
“We are running up the down escalator and we have a lot of work to do,” he said.
To improve its operations, M&S has been moving off its old IT systems and has been shutting warehouses in its distribution network.
M&S has already announced that it is closing its warehouses in Warrington and Neasden, and Mr Rowe said on Tuesday that the future of the Donnington warehouse was under review.
M&S reported 62.1% fall in pre-tax profit to £66.8 million in the year to March 31 as it was dragged down by £321.1 million in costs linked to store closures.