Marks and Spencer to close overseas clothing stores, focus on food biz

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British high street retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) is looking to stem its losses and improve sales and efficiency by closing 30 stores in the UK.
It will also retreat from 10 countries – including loss making stores in France and China – as it embarks on a sweeping restructuring plan to promote its flourishing food business over its struggling clothing segment.
The company plans to shut 53 international stores, including all 10 in China, half of its stores in France and all its shops in Belgium, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. That represents more than a quarter of the international stores that M&S fully owns, and will cost between £150 million to £200 million.
Acccording to a report in The Telelegraph, a UK daily, M&S plans to open 200 smaller Simply Food stores by the end of the decade. The scheme will cost around £50 million a year over the first three years, rising to £100 million for the last two years.
Chief Executive Officer Steve Rowe’s announced that the company will see 200 new Simply Food shops open as it shifts away from disappointing clothes sales.
The announcements came even as M&S reported falling sales and profits in the six months to the end of September.
Rowe said of the UK store closures: “This is about building a sustainable, more profitable business that’s relevant for our customers in a digital shopping age.”
Steve Rowe replaced Marc Bolland as chief executive earlier this year with analysts predicting he’ll look to shrink Marks and Spencer’s store estate as online rivals continue to hit the retailer’s clothing business.

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